The

Temple Gallery

Established 1959

Saint Nicholas - exhibited at the Temple Gallery, specialists in Russian icons

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WW035. St Nicholas the Wonder-worker

Russian
19th century
26.5 x 22.2 cmClick here to convert metric size to imperial

£2,500Click here to convert price to USD or EUR

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Saint Nicholas is shown in half-length, wearing the classical vestments of a bishop. His right hand is raised in an ancient gesture signifying oration (or teaching), while he is holding a closed Gospel in his left hand. His eyes gaze directly at the viewer. Two roundels - containing Christ on the left (blessing Nicholas and presenting him a Gospel) and the Mother of God on the right (presenting Nicholas with an omphorion) - surround Nicholas on either side of the Saint's shoulders.

Even though this version was created in the 19th century, the way in which the face has been executed connects it with ancient ascetic traditions. For example, Nicholas has a pensive expression as if he is in deep concentration. The skin of his face is folded in places suggesting consternation and focus. This tradition can be found, for instance, in a 15th century icon of St Nicholas though in a more exaggerated fashion (fig. a). This feature may signify that our icon originates from a monastic environment where they used ascetic prayer techniques, such as hesychasm, to instigate an experience of the divine. Such icons would be both the result of such practices and the vehicle to instigate new ecstatic experiences - an object used to focus the mind.

Fig. a (detail)

Fig. a. St Nicholas, Kastoria, early 15th century, Kastoria Byzantine Museum, Kastoria, Greece

Detail Images