Novgorod School, 16th-17th century: A Russian icon depicting The Holy Martyr St. Paraskeva Piatnitsa. Tempera on wooden panel with “kovcheg”. 67×49 cm.


A Russian icon depicting The Holy Martyr St. Paraskeva Piatnitsa in full figure wearing a red cape and a green robe, holding an invisible cross in one hand and a scroll in the other with the words “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”, on ivory ground with the name “Piatnitsa”. Novgorod school, 16th-17th century. Tempera on wooden panel with “kovcheg”. 67×49 cm.

The Great Martyr Paraskeva of Iconium lived during the third century in a rich and pious family. The parents of the saint especially reverenced Friday, the day of the Passion of the Lord, and therefore they called their daughter Paraskeva, which also means Friday.

Young Paraskeva loved purity and the loftiness of the virginal life with all her heart, and she took a vow of celibacy. She wanted to devote all her life to God and to enlighten pagans with the light of Christ.

Because of her confession of the Orthodox Faith, the pagansseized her in a frenzy and brought her to the city prefect. They demanded that she offered unholy sacrifice to the pagan idols. With a steady heart, and trusting in God, the saint refused this demand. For this she underwent great torments: After stripping her, they tied her to a tree and beat her with rods. Then the torturers raked her pure body with iron claws. Finally, they threw her into prison, exhausted by the torture and lacerated to the bone. But God did not forsake the holy sufferer, and miraculously healed her wounds. Not heeding this divine miracle, the executioners continued with their torture of Saint Paraskeva, and finally, they cut off her head.

In particular, four pair of saints were highlighted in the Novgorod area, namely Paraskeva and Anastasia, Koamos and Damianus, Boris and Gljeb as well as Flor and Laur. Icons with these saints are therefore more common in this area compared to other parts of Russia.

Literature: Helge Kjellin, “Russiske Ikoner”, Oslo 1956, reproduced and described p. 134–135.

Provenance: Acquired by the Norwegian Commercial Attaché, Richard Zeiner-Henriksen (1878–1965), while he lived in St. Petersburg 1922–1931. His interest in Russian art and antiques, as well as his acquisitions to create a Russian collection, is well-known. Richard Zeiner-Henriksen's Russian collection gained even more prominence, when it was auctioned off at Bruun Rasmussen in June 2017, which resulted in world records on his icons worth millions of Danish kroner. In the 1960s Richard Zeiner-Henriksen sold some icons from his collections, among others to private collectors, Louvre in Paris and the National Museum in Oslo.


Condition report on request. Please contact: russia@bruun-rasmussen.dk

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Russian art, 29 November 2019



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