19th cent. 35.6x32x4 cms.
This icon consists of a large brass Cross [28x14cms.] of The Crucifixion. The Cross has then been inserted into a bespoke panel which has been incised with a blade to form a background screen of crosses and flowers. Further decoration is created by a line of small circles that frame the Cross itself. Finally the entire board has been given a final coat of rose pink signifying the blood of Christ. The board was then placed within a gilded frame much of which has been lost over time.
The practice of creating large icons of brass was a characteristic of The Old Believer community. They were a sect that emerged in the 17th cent. in protest to the liturgical reforms of Patriarch Nikkon. As a consequence of their objection they were persecuted on various levels for the next 200 years. Seeking shelter in the woods, mountains, and marshes they needed items that were portable. This need and that of wishing to retain the devotional sustenance that icons gave, they adopted brass icons which, as a generality, were lighter and easier to carry than the wooden counterparts. The “Stavroteka” was created in the mid-19th cent. when the Russian establishment was turning its attention to more dangerous socio-political movements. This particular example was probably a church icon. A conclusion given to the wear on the board that frames the Cross from veneration.