Temple Gallery

Established 1959

Raising of Lazarus - exhibited at the Temple Gallery, specialists in Russian icons

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WW008. Raising of Lazarus

Russian, Northern Russia
Early 17th century
48.5 x 48.8 cmClick here to convert metric size to imperial

Provenance:  Private collection, Denmark

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Christ stands with his right hand raised to bless Lazarus. The disciples stand behind him discussing the mystery of the event. On the right of the panel, Lazarus is depicted wrapped in a shroud and emerging from his tomb.

In Scripture the raising of Lazarus is one of Christ's most significant miracles - anticipating and prefiguring his own resurrection a week later - and is related in the Gospel of John.

It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone...Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me... And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. (11:38-44)

The iconography is known in Byzantium. The current example strips the composition to the most essential features of the narrative: the disciples are represented by three figures, Christ and Lazarus emerging from his cave. This simplicity is most likely due to its size, but it creates a powerful impression of containing the symbolism of resurrection without unnecessary narrative details - the onlooker is encouraged to focus on the mystery of the raising of a dead body back to life.

This simple and contained style, and the earthly colour tones, converged with warm, glowing faces suggests that it was painted in the early 17th century in Northern Russia. A comparable icon of the Transfiguration from this period and region - which also has these features - can be seen below (fig. a). See also a Crucifixion icon from the same time and region (fig. b) and compare with our icon.

Fig. a. Transfiguration, Northern Russia, early 17th century, published in Eikon: Icons of the Orthodox World, cat. 50, pp. 152-153

Fig. b. Crucifixion, Northern Russia, early 17th century, published in Peter Mikliss de Dolega, Ikone und Mysterium, (Koln, Freundkreiss St Panteleon, 1996), p. 91

Detail Images