Auction 136 Highlights

Welcome to Smalls Auctions Sale 136.

There is perhaps no stronger indicator of the resilience of religion than the images on our screens at the moment of the Taliban sweeping aside modern progress to once again impose Sharia Law on Afghanistan. For better or worse the strict adherents of religion seem to be on a roll in recent years in resetting the moral compass of their societies in line with theologies written millennia ago. It appears that zealots have no compunction enjoying the fruits of science, be it mobile telephones or rocket launchers, provided progress is rooted in the past.

This is an oft repeated tale in the ‘civilised’ history of humankind with religions being forced underground for decades or even centuries before once again rearing their collective heads.

Under the Tzars, Russian Orthodoxy was the state religion but the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922 gave rise to a new orthodoxy which sought the total elimination of religion from society. Communism was the new altar at which to bow, but egalitarianism only stretches so far and, so as church property became the plaything of the ruling elites, the reverent were forced to conduct their ancient religious rites underground.

Central to this Sale we have several Russian Orthodox Icons from the mid to late 19th Century which as well as being true artistic works of beauty also tell a tale of the survival of religion under authoritarian rule. It was around these personal Icons that households would gather in candlelight to worship privately before setting forth each day to serve the State.

With the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian Orthodox Church has once again re-emerged in Russia if only to salve the patriotic fervour of Vladimir Putin, its imperious leader. Whether you appreciate these items as pieces of art or as significant historical markers they are valuable collectables that capture the past, the present and the future.

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