Icon: Basil the Great and Basil

Number: 041 Period: 16th century
Name: Icon: Basil the Great and Basil Size: 31,7 x 26,3 cm
Origin: Russia Price: on request

Orthodox believers have a strong bond with their saints. These saints are ever-present. They are normally  invisible, but the faithful can see them in their dreams and visions, and also on icons. The saints on the icons help believers to make contact with the invisible world. Icons of saints always contain some reference to Christ. They are shown looking towards Christ or there is a very visible reference – a hand, God the Father, Christ or the Trinity – in one of the corners or at the top of the icon. The reference may also take the form of a cross or scroll carried by the saint.

In this icon, St Basil the Great, in ecclesiastical vestments of cruciform decoration, and St Basil the Hermit (the Fool), depicted naked with his hands raised in supplication, are in conversation with Christ Emmanuel. The textual basis for “Holy Fools” is I Corinthians 3:18: ‘Let no man deceive himself. If any among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise’.

The widely recognised multi-colored swirled-top Cathedral in Moscow is named after the Basil the Fool.

The icon has a silver gilt revetment (oklad) with applied cloisonné halos, the border chased with scrolling foliate pattern on stippled ground, and background etched with intricate leaf design, Hallmark: Moscow, 84, assayer’s mark B.C. (=Viktor Sawinkov) in Cyrillic, 1876, master I S (no 2572)


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