Orthodox icon | Easter, the 12 Great Feasts, 4 Feasts and the Holy Week | Palekh | 24691

Russian icon

Painting school of Palekh

35.5 x 31 cm | 14.0 x 12.2 in

Beginning of the 19th century

Antike original russische Ikone aus dem 19. Jahrhundert.


In the center is the resurrection from the grave and the descent into the underworld (the realm of the dead). Christ on the crushed gates of the realm of the dead, tears Adam and Eve out of the maw of death and with them the righteous of the Old Testament, led by an angel and John the forerunner. In paradise the Grateful Thief and the Prophet Elias. Top left Peter at the grave and bottom right Jesus and Peter at the Sea of Galilee.

  1. Birth of the Mother of God | Festivity on September 21 (resp. September 8) | Anna can be seen half-lying and resting, next to her are servants. Anna’s husband Joachim is in a prayer position at the head end. Below is the scene of the bathing of the child. The servant holds the child and checks the water in the container.
  2. Presentation of the Mother of God | Festivity on December 4 (resp. November 21) When Maria was three years old, she was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem, where she was to be brought up and lived there until she was fifteen. The high priest Zacharias also came there. The icon depicts Mary’s encounter with Zacharias in front of the temple. The high priest and Maria stand on the stairs in front of the open gate, behind them are the parents Maria, Joachim and Anna, and a virgin.
  3. Pentecost (Holy Trinity) | Festivity: seven weeks after Easter, on a Sunday | The hospitality at Abraham is depicted. The story from the book Genesis that Abraham receives a visit from three men, but only speaks to one man. The church fathers saw in this text a preliminary representation of the divine trinity and so this representation became the Pentecostal icon. The three men are represented as angels. Abraham kneels before them. The angels sit at the table under the Terebinth of Mamre.
  4. Annunciation of the Mother of God | Festivity on April 7th (resp. March 25th) | The icon depicts the joyful news of the birth of the Savior. The appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, he tells her the good news that she will be the Mother of God. God the Father instructs the Archangel Gabriel with the preaching but on the way, he stops and doubts whether he should actually preach the news to her (therefore Gabriel is shown again on the left).
  5. Birth of Christ | Festivity on January 7th (resp. December 25th) | The birth in the cave is shown. The Blessed Mother is resting, next to her the child lies in a cloth in the crib. Next to the crib, the three wise men. Below: Joseph sits thoughtful, next to him is an old man who symbolizes the “spirit of doubt”.
  6. Presentation of Jesus at the Temple | Festivity on February 15 (resp. February 2) | The Blessed Mother came to the temple in Jerusalem with Christ and her fiancé Joseph on the fortieth day after the birth of Jesus to consecrate the child to God. In the temple they met the aged Simeon and the prophetess Hanna, who had been living in the temple for a long time. Simeon was prophesied that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. Simeon holds the child in his arms.
  7. Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan | Festivity on January 19 (resp. January 6) | Narration of the Gospel about the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. The undressed Jesus Christ stands in the river, John the Baptist next to him, angels stand on the other riverbank. Above: the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. Christ blesses with His right hand, which is at waist level.
  8. Entry into Jerusalem | Festivity is celebrated on the Sunday before Holy Week after Lazarus Saturday | Christ enters Jerusalem one week before His crucifixion. The icons depict Christ riding a donkey. Christ rides into the city of Jerusalem. Christ and His disciples are greeted by the people.
  9. The Transfiguration of the Christ | Festivity on August 19 (resp. August 6) | When Jesus and His disciples were in Caesarea Philippi, He took three of them – Peter, James and John – and climbed a mountain with them. After that, Jesus left them and went a little higher to pray alone. During the prayer, He was transfigured to Jesus. When the disciples awoke from their sleep, they suddenly saw their teacher Jesus Christ in glory. Christ is depicted “shinning” (in white clothes). The prophets Moses and Elijas stand next to Christ and beneath them are John and Jacob on their knees and Peter on the ground.
  10. Ascension of Christ | Festivity: 40 days after Easter, on a Thursday the 6th week after Easter | On the fortieth day after His resurrection, Christ led His disciples to the Mount of Olives and ascended to heaven before their eyes. When the stunned apostles looked at the ascending Christ, two men appeared to them and announced the return of the Savior at the end of the world. In the upper part, Christ is depicted in a round mandorla carried by two angels as he ascends to heaven. Under Him, in the center, stands the Mother of God with her hands raised (in the Orante position as a prayer). The apostles stand around her.
  11. Dormition of the Mother of God | Festivity on August 28 (resp. August 15) | Dormition is not death, it’s just sleeping. The Blessed Mother, like Christ, soon ascended to heaven. The Mother of God is shown on the bed, the apostles are at the head and foot end. The figure of Christ stands on a golden background, carrying a child wrapped in cloth, depicting the soul of the Mother of God.
  12. The Resurrection Lazarus | The sisters Marta and Maria lived in the village of Betanien. One day their brother Lazarus fell ill, whom they very much admired. The sisters informed Christ that their brother was sick, but when Jesus came to Betania, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Christ went to the cave where Lazarus had been buried, ordered to remove the stone that closed the entrance, looked into the cave and shouted: “Lazarus! Come out!”. Christ is depicted, behind him is a group of apostles, on the right is the dark cave. Jesus extends his hand to Lazarus, who has already risen and is wrapped in bandages. In the front you can see the sisters Marta and Maria, who bow to the ground before Christ.
  13. Pokrov: Protection and Intercession of the Mother of God and Saint Romanos the Melode | The apparition of the Blessed Mother is shown in the Blachern-Cathedral in Constantinople. The veil of the Mother of God was kept here. The Mother of God holds a protective cloth over the believers. The venerable Romanos came to Constantinople at the time of Emperor Anastasios, as a singer at the imperial court. Romanos is considered the most important poet in Byzantine literature (melodós = “singer”).
  14. Beheading of the Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John | Memorial Day August 29 | According to the biblical story, the daughter of Herod’s wife Herodias claimed the head of John the Baptist as a reward for a dance, for which Herodias instigated her. Historical: The daughter of Aretas ’had fled to her father. He threatened Antipas with war. In order not to get involved in a two-front war, Antipas executed John had the Baptist before the war began. He feared an uprising among John’s followers during his campaign against Aretas.
  15. The Holy Prophet Elias | Festivity on August 2 (resp. July 20) | Elias was a prophet in Israel at the time of King Ahab (873-853 BC) and Queen Jezebel. Among other things, the icon depicts his ascent to heaven on a fiery wagon, which is observed by his pupil Elisäus. Elias predicted the drought and was instructed to hide in the creek of Kerit where he was fed by ravens.
  16. The Feast of the Cross/ Exaltation of the Cross | Festivity on September 27 (resp. September 14) | The Patriarch of Jerusalem Makarios presents the cross of the Lord to the people in the presence of the Emperor Constantine and his mother Empress Helena. Helena took a part of the cross and the nails. The cross itself was placed in a silver chest and handed over to the patriarch Makarios so that he could save the cross for future generations.


The liturgy of the “Great and Holy Thursday”, as “Maundy Thursday” is called in the Eastern Church, includes Jesus’ last supper with his disciples and thus the institution of the Eucharist, the washing of the disciples’ feet, Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus’ surrender through the betrayal of Judas.


  1. The Last Supper | Jesus with his twelve apostles at the communion table. The 12 Apostles: James, Bartholomew, Judas Iscariot, John, Andrew, Philip and Luke, Judas Thaddeus, Peter, Matthew, Simon and Thomas. Eleven apostles are depicted with haloes. In Judas this is missing. Next to Jesus, the apostle John. On the table bread and wine (Matt. 26:20-25).
  2. Foot washing | Maundy | During the last supper, on the eve of his death on the cross, Jesus Christ washed the feet of his disciples and dried them with the cloth that girded him. With this example he wanted to show that the disciples must also be ready to serve one another.
  3. Prayer of Jesus on Gethsemane | In the Gospels, Gethsemane is the place where Jesus voluntarily chose to say goodbye to his disciples; his solitude in the garden forms a counterpoint to the previous communion at communion.
  4. Betrayal by Judas – Judas Kiss | According to Matthew 26.48ff EU, the apostle Judas Iscariot, called by Jesus of Nazareth, betrayed him to the troops sent out by the high priests with a kiss, which had been agreed beforehand as a sign of identification.
  5. Jesus before the high priest Caiaphas | The soldiers bring Christ to the high priest Caiaphas. When asked whether he is the son of God, he affirms. Caiaphas sees this as blasphemy, tears his robe and sentences him to death.
  6. Jesus before Pontius Pilate | The governor Pontius Pilate is considered to be the one who confirmed the death sentence of the high council at the temple in Jerusalem against Jesus of Nazarth and had the execution carried out on the cross.
  7. The Flagellation | The scourging by the Romans is mentioned in three of the four canonical gospels and was the usual prelude to crucifixion in Roman law.
  8. The Crowning of Thorns | Three of the four gospels report that a crown of thorns was placed on Jesus of Nazareth by Roman soldiers. Along with a reed scepter and a red cloak, the soldiers endowed him with “royal” symbols in mockery (mocking of Christ) while mistreating and mocking him.
  9. The Carrying of the Cross | Stations of the Cross | Jesus carries the cross to Golgotha, the place of his crucifixion.
  10. The Crucifixion | Jesus on the cross, next to the Blessed Mother with Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint Mary Cleophae, Saint John the Theologian the Apostle and Saint Longinus.
  11. The Descent from the Cross | Joseph of Arimathea, Saint Nicodemus and the apostle and evangelist John the Theologian take down the body of Jesus from the cross. In the canonical Gospels there is no account of the Descent from the Cross and the Lamentation of Jesus. They only register that Joseph of Arimathea asks Pilate for the body of Jesus, that he takes Jesus down from the cross, wraps it in a linen cloth and puts it in a tomb carved in a rock.
  12. The Entombment | Joseph of Arimathea, the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, Our Lady, Mary Magdalene, Mary Cleopas and Saint Nicodemus. The orthodox burial icon depicts the burial of Jesus in a form unfamiliar to Western tradition. Despite the variety of details, this icon always contains the same symbols and types. The icon refers to the Gospel according to Mark, Chapter 15:42-47. The Entombment icon belongs to the Passion icons.


Gilded background. Beautiful miniature painting from the Painting School of Palekh.

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