Museum acquires rare 1600s doors.
The provenance, as published in the European art press, verifies the set is from a private collection in Holland acquired in the 1960s.
Museum curator and CEO Kent Russell is uncertain of when they left Russia.
"Given the chaos of the Russian Revolution, many rare works of art were hastily removed," Russell said. "Another possibility would be the 1930s when Russian sacred art was sold for hard currency by the Lenin government. Armand Hammer, the American industrialist and art collector, was known to have negotiated and facilitated sales for the Russian government."
The museum acquired the Royal Doors from the Hahn Ikonen Gallerie, owned by Thomas Moenius, in Berlin, Germany. The doors were the only set available on the Russian art market for a number of years, and are considered the finest pair in the United States.
They will be installed in a new "Iconostasis Room" in the Museum's South Gallery. The room will showcase icons related to iconostases (or altar screen decorated with icons) in the museum collection, including a mid-1500s "Festival Row" deesis, a large scale "Mother of God," circa mid-1600s, a masterpiece "Not Made By Hands," circa mid-1500s, which would have capped the crest of an iconostasis wall, and a number of significant, new, folding iconostases used by priests visiting ill parishioners in outlying regions, distant from churches and in need of spiritual succor.
Four Apostles are depicted on the doors. The crests of the doors - as is typical - depict the annunciation, with Mary Mother of God on the right, and Gabriel announcing the arrival of the infant Jesus to the left. These doors led to the high altar of the Orthodox church, closed to all but the priest and hierarchy and, in the case of Imperial Russia, the Emperor.
CUTLINE: The new doors.