Russian icon | Shestodnev

Icon: Shestodnev N-6

(Six Days-icon)

Origin :
Russia
Period :
16th century (vrezka)
(lower part 19th century)
Size :
40 x 31.5 cm
Provenance :
Private collection, Germany
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The composition of the Six Days-icon was inspired by the Shestodnev of Kirill the Philosopher (1130-1182), a liturgical cycle of prayers for the week. Kirill the Philosopher is considered as one of the first and finest theologians of Kievan Rus'.

The scene of the Anastasis in the upper left corner symbolises the week as a whole, the Synaxis (Assembly) of the Archangels next to it refers to Monday, the Beheading of St John the Forerunner to Tuesday, the Annunciation to Wednesday, the Washing of the Apostle’s Feet to Thursday and the Crucifixion to Friday and Saturday. The All Saints composition in the lower half of the icon refers to Sunday. In the composition every single group of saints, represented against a green ground within an arched frame, can be identified. From left to right they are: forefathers, holy fools, holy monks, holy princes, holy female martyrs, holy nuns, holy emperors, holy bishops, holy prophets, holy apostles, holy martyrs and holy empresses. They raise their hands in prayer towards the Empty Throne (Hetoimasia), with the closed book containing all deeds of mankind on it and with the Crucifixion attributes. The Empty Throne is already prepared for the return of Christ, as judge for the End of Days.

The scenes in the upper half of the icon date from the 16th century. They have been set into another panel in the 19th century (vrezka). At the same time the All Saints scene in the lower half of the icon was painted.