• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7542

    Icons and Artefacts from the Orthodox World

    26 November 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 52


    CRETAN, CIRCA 1500

    Price Realised  


    CRETAN, CIRCA 1500
    The upper part of Christ's lifeless body depicted upright in his sarcophagus, his head inclined rightwards, four locks of hair laying on his shoulders, his hands crossed, the wounds on his side and hands still bleeding, his halo formed by two engraved concentric outlines, the cross behind bearing the tabula ansata, represented like an open scroll, inscribed in red with the Latin initials for Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, three nails fixed on the vertical bar, the archangels Michael and Gabriel with outstretched wings floating next to the cross, each looking backwards while pointing at Christ with both hands, the latter's serene face and flesh rendered with light brown priming, his features defined by brighter, mostly beige tones, the red and green colours of the sarcophagus reflecting the garments of the angels, the deep, saturated colour of the cross standing out against the shining, gold background
    18 3/8 x 14½ in. (46.7 x 36.8 cm)

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    An icon of the same subject was sold at Christie's on 13 December 1995, lot 301 (see image on this page). Although the two panels are fundamentally similar, imperceptible differences might suggest that they were made to address different groups of believers. The wooden titulus of the above icon is inscribed in Greek, contrary to the scroll-like tabula ansata of the present lot that bears the initials of the Latin Iesus Nazarethis Rex Iudaeorum. It makes sense to assume that the first icon was produced for the Greek Orthodox public, whereas the current lot was made for a Western audience. In addition, the cross on the panel offered here bears three nails. It is not clear whether this number refers to the actual relics recovered, or if it implies the three nails customarily used in Western representations of the Crucifix. If the latter was the case, then the idea that this panel was painted for Western believers seems logical.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Purchased by the current owner from Sotheby's, Icons, Russian Pictures and Works of Art Sale, 15 June 1995, Lot 16