- Museum number
- Object: The Baptism of Christ (‘Bogoyavleni’)
Icon; painted; in the centre the naked Christ stands in the waters of the river Jordan and turns to the left to John the Baptist who baptizes him. Below an opening in the sky with God the Father in a cloud, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descends above Christ's head. There are two diminutive personifications of the Sea (left) and the Jordan (right) besides Christ's feet. John stands on the left bank of the river. He wears an orange-red sheepskin and a green 'himation'. On the right bank three angels venerate Christ, their hands respectfully veiled.
Inscriptions: in gold in Church Slavonic on the upper border: ОБРАЭ BОГОЯВЛЕНИЯ БОГА НАШЕГО ИИСУСА ХРИСТА (Image of the Appearance of Our Lord Jesus Christ); beside God's head: ГОСПОДЬ САВAОФ (Lord Sabaoth); beside the symbol of the Holy Spirit: ДУХ СВЯТОЙ (Holy Spirit); in Greek by Christ's head: ΙC ΧC (Jesus Christ); on Christ's halo: [O] WN (He Who Is); on the left rock above John the Baptist: СВЯТОЙ ИОАНН ПРЕДТЕЧА (St John the Forerunner); on the right rock above the angels: АИГЕЛЫ ГОСПОДНИ (Angels of Our Lord); on the waters of the river Jordan above the left figure: МОРЕ (Sea); above the right figure: ИОРДАН (Jordan); many of the letters are damaged or obscure.
Egg tempera, gold, gesso on wood.
- Production date
Height: 44 centimetres
Thickness: 2.80 centimetres
Width: 35 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- The celebration of the Baptism of Christ, one of the Twelve Great Feasts (‘dodekaorton’), goes back to the Early Christian period. It is mentioned in the Gospels upon which its iconography was based. It was a particularly popular subject in the catacomb murals in Rome. Two main iconographic types were subsequently developed: the so-called ‘Hellenistic’ and the so-called ‘Syrian’. In the former Christ stands frontally dressed in a loincloth, in the latter the naked Christ, holding his hands over his groin, advances towards John the Baptist. The ‘Hellenistic’ format becomes common in Byzantine art and influenced the Moscow iconographic tradition.
The Museum’s icon represents the typical iconography employed in the workshops of Novgorod and uses the ‘Syrian’ scheme with some variations. It becomes popular in the 19th century and can be seen on a number of icons produced in the Ural region (Nevjansk school) as, for instance, on ‘Part of a triptych with Feasts’ (Komashko 2007, no. 114). The Baptism is celebrated on 6 January.
Cormack 2007, 126, no. 53
- Not on display
- Made from a single panel with ‘kovcheg’; two inserted battens on the reverse; the paint layer is slightly worn due to cleaning; there are scattered spots of a darkened oil varnish all over the surface.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- See 1998,0605.1 Most of the items catalogued under 1998,0605 were acquired by Sir Frank Roberts’ wife, Cella.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: IC 53 (Icon Collection number)