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Posts tagged ‘Mary Magdalene’

ArtSmart Roundtable – Images of Mary Magdalene

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art history-focused travel blogs with a post on a common theme.  For February we are discussing the iconography of a few historical, religious or mythical figures to help you “read” some of the images you may encounter on the road.  I’ve always thought that understanding the context and source material for imagery really deepens your appreciation for art.  You can find links below to all the group’s articles this month.

Flanders Book of Hours Illuminated Manuscript - St Lawrence

The martyr St. Lawrence was “grilled” to death and is usually seen with a metal cooking rack. Book of Hours, 1510, Flanders, Syracuse University Special Collections.

I love seeing Saints in European art because it is so easy to tell who everyone is.  There is a characteristic object or dress to each figure that helps you decipher his or her identity.  I’ve always been partial to John the Baptist with his wild man appearance and camel hair attire.  But what about the saints with less straight-forward stories?  Theological and historical confusion has long shrouded St. Mary Magdalene; consequently, she has a complex visual iconography.

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Maybe the Best Russian Icon Collection in America

The other day I wrote about the Eastern Orthodox iconography of John the Baptist.  Let me take a step back now and spend a little more time on the amazing institution where I saw those pieces: The Museum of Russian Icons.  Located in Clinton, MA, about an hour drive from Boston, the modern facility displays hundreds of excellent Russian icons.  It was such a pleasant surprise to find this small museum; it is definitely one of my favorite New England hidden gems.

The Museum houses the personal collection of Gordon B. Lankton.  An executive at a plastic company, he bought his first icon at a flea market in Russia while on a business trip.  Mr. Lankton became fascinated by the style and imagery and returned from his subsequent business trips with more icons.  (Now new pieces are acquired through well-respected international auction house.)  With well over 100 icons, Mr. Lankton decided the collection would be best displayed at a museum, but a suitable organization could not be found in New York City or Boston.  He then decided to keep the icons in Clinton and so the current Museum was opened in 2006 in a renovated carpet factory.  The museum space is elegant and an excellent platform for enjoying the art.  The Museum now has over 500 icons and objects in its collection and has a friendly and informed staff.  With 12,000-17,000 visitors annually, you’re also likely to enjoy the works with some peace and quiet.

Images of the collection were taken by me, except the last one of the museum interior.

Mother of God Russian icon

"Vladimir Mother of God" circa 1680 (Museum of Russian Icons)

Russian icon damage

Lower central detail of "Vladimir Mother of God" showing candle damage (Museum of Russian Icons)

Saint Nicholas Russian Icon

"Saint Nicholas of Zaraisk, The Wonderworker and Holy Bishop of Myra with Scenes from his life" Suzdal School, 16th Century (Museum of Russian Icons)

cloth Russian icon

Detail from "Christ, Not Made by Hands (Allegory)", circa 1600 (Museum of Russian Icons)

Mary Magdalene Russian icon

"Mary Magdalene" circa 1890 (Museum of Russian Icons)

The honor system cafe (pay at the gift shop upstairs) is a nice touch with imported Russian treats, a hot beverage machine and these antique tea kettles.

 

Interior of the Museum

Modern interior of Museum of Russian Icons (Image from Wikipedia)

 

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