A DONATION OF TSAR FYODOR III ALEKSEEVICH: A HIGHLY IMPORTANT AND MONUMENTAL ICON SHOWING THE OLD TESTAMENT TRINITY
Russian, Moscow/Vologda, Ermolai and Jakov Sergeev and Pyotr Semyonov, dated 1682
Tempera on wood panel. The angels seated around a table under the oak of Mamre, the figures rendered in classical proportions, each holding a staff and bending their head forward. To the left Abraham offering them some food. In the foreground a servant slaying the tender calf. The upper section showing Sarah preparing the bread, the arrival, the foot-washing and the sendoff of the Angels. In the background to the left an architectural setting, to the right a rock mountain. The faces painted with subtle shades of brown, the garments and landscape mainly with red and various tones of green and yellow. The garments and the table finely executed with gilding. 108 x 78 cm.
On the reverse a silver cross with the painted image of the crucifixion, the chalice, the patern and the gospel in a precious cover. Under the altar slab according to the Christian tradition, there are relics, the relics of the venerable Sabbas of Storozhev. The Cyrillic dedication inscription reads: By the great mercy and careful support of our father the Great Lord Tsar and Great Prince Alexei Mikailovich, the autocrat of all Great, Small, and White Russia, and by the blessing of the Great Lord Joachim, the most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, and by the zeal and care of our father the Right Reverend Simon, the Archbishop of Vologda and Belozersk, this stone chirch have been erected in the name of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ. When, however, our benefactor was snatched by God’s will away from this transient life into eternal rest, after him the Great Lord Tsar and Prince Fyodor Alexeevich, the autocrat of all Great, Small and White Russia, (tool over). Before it is God’s will for him also to leave this transient world, he did not want to abandon us, his children, whithout his most high mercy and commanded parts of the relics from the holy shrine of our most venerable father Savva, the abbot of the Monastry of Storozhev, to be carried to the town of Belozersk and for his holy icon of the holy live-giving Trinity to be installed in the altar of this church in order that we could perpetually pray so that the lover of mankind, Christ our true God, through the prayers of His most Pure Mother and all the saints, will establish their souls in the dweillings of the righteous. The right Reverend Simon, the archbishop of Vologda and Belozersk, brought these (holy relics) from the capital city of Moscow, and consecrated this church with the fear of God, together with the Right Reverend Talosius, archbishop of Totma and Veliky Ustyyug, while Hilarion, son od Semyon Lopikhin, was ruling as the elder. Ans this took place on the feast day of Our Lord’s Transfiguration, in the year of our Lord 7190 (i.e 1682), on 6 August, and (this icon) was painted through the labours of the most sinful and indecent work of the icon)-painters Ermolai and Jakov Sergeev and Peterkin (Petrushka) son of Semyon. To the glory of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. A day of radiant celebration has come to this town of Belozersk, and with it all the country and the state of Orthodox Russia is rejoicing. Your relics, oh most venerable father, have shone forth in Zvenigorod from the east to the west like a star; and so will we also cry aloud: thou hast been transfigurated, oh town of Belozersk, as if upon the Mount of Tabor, enlightening us about Jesus Christ, the light everlasting.
This icon was commissioned in 1682 by Tsar Fyodor III Alekseevich from the Moscow and Vologda artists, the brothers Ermolai and Jakov Sergeev and Pjotr Semyonov, and delivered, together with the inserted fragment of the relics of St. Sabbas of Storozhev, to the newly-consecrated Cathedral of Transfiguration of Belozersk, built of stone in 1668-1670. Thron. Sein Nachfolger war Fjodor III. Alexejewitsch (1661-1682), der von 1676 bis 1682 We learn out of the inscription that this icon was dedicated by Tsar Fyodor III, older brother of Peter the Great, to the memory of his father Alexis I.
Feodor III of Russia was the Tsar of all Russia between 1676 and 1682. Alexei Mikhailovich (1629-1676) was the Tsar of Russia from 1645 until his death in 1676. Born in Moscow, Fyodor, as the eldest surviving son of Tsar Alexis and Maria Miloslavskaya, succeeded his father on the throne in 1676 at the age of fifteen.
Saint Sabbas of Storozhevsky called Sabbas of Storozhev was an Orthodox monk and saint of the 14th/15th century. He was the founder of first hegumen of Rodestro Nativity of the Mother of God Monastry in Zvenigorod. Later given the name of Savino Storozhevsky Monastry. He was first disciple of Sergius of Radonezh and spend almost whole of his life in the Trinity St. Sergius Lavra very popular for his alleged healings. In 1398 Prince Yri asked him to go to Zvenigorod and establish a Monastry. He died in 1407 and was canonized in 1547.
The icon painter Ermolai Sergeev is mentioned in Vologda in the period 1660 – 1702. In 1666 he worked at the Cathedral in Kolomensskoye and in 1695 19 icons are documented, which he made for the Solovetsky Monastery in Vologda. Several signed icons are known from him, among others an icon with the Resurrection of Christ, which is today in the Museum in Rostov. His brother Jakov was mentioned between 1670 and 1692. Pyotr Semenov was apprenticed to Karp Zolotarev from 1677, then to Ivan Artemonovich Bezmin. He worked for the tsar and was a member of the Kremlin Workshop. It is documented that he painted for Peter I and his daughters in 1685. He worked in Pereslawl-Salesski in 1694 and in Voronezh in 1695.
Exhibited: Icona volto del mistero, Milan 1991, 108-109.