0312 St John The Forerunner
17th cent. 47.5x33x3 cms
The icon is written in the style of Ushakov [1626-1686]. He was a leading Russian icongrapher of the 17th cent. He had found favour with Tsar Alexei because of the realism he introduced into his representations of iconographic subjects. However, not all members of Orthodoxy shared the Imperial taste as Ushakov’s realism contravened the strict traditions that governed icon representation.
Realism is a dominant feature of this icon. It shows John the Baptist with unkempt hair and eyes wide with passion. The Saint has the dynamic quality of movement of a zealot urgently fulfilling God’s commission. His urgent commission is to warn of the impending appearance of The Messiah. He clutches a scroll inscribed with the text of Matthew 3:2 Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near”.
The icon itself was probably a Church piece, hewn from a single piece of elm whose close grain ensured maximum strength.
Since purchase from a private British collector, the icon has been cleaned and minor restoration undertaken to the Saint’s beard, to the radiance of God in the top right corner and the drapery.