The Apostle Peter
  • TitleThe Apostle Peter
  • Technique/ MaterialWood and egg tempera
  • DimensionsDimensions: (h x b x dj) 72,5 x 24 x 2 cm
  • Artist/Maker Artist: Unknown, active during 1300-talet
  • CategoryPaintings, Icons
  • Inventory No.NMI 295
  • AcquisitionInköp 1965
  • Description
    Images and media

    Description in Icons, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 2004.
    Part of diptych cat. no. 36-37:
    [NMI 294-295]

    Wood: Linden (Tilia sp.), egg tempera.
    Panel made of single board without
    splines, on batten holes from pintles
    which held an end-piece now lost, raised
    borders along all sides except for right.

    PROVENANCE: Vilhelm Assarsson (”North
    Russia, 14th century”); Åke Wiberg;
    Anders Wiberg; Acquired by the Museum
    in 1965
    EXHIBITIONS: Stockholm 1988, no 1–2; Aarhus
    1993, not in catalogue; Copenhagen
    1996, nos 169 – 170
    BIBLIOGRAPHY: Assarssons samling (2:3–4);
    NM annual report 1965, p 17; Smirnova
    1984, pp 60–70; Smirnova 1986; Abel
    1989:1, p 12; Abel 1996:1

    CONSERVATION: [Cat. no 37]
    See previous no; NM 1995:
    test patch on left hand and clothing
    showing the original paint layers (Y.
    Bobrov) Cracks in lower part of panel;
    lower section badly damaged, with losses of
    wood, paint layers and ground; ground and
    paint layers missing along right border; surface
    abraded; varnish yellowed; lower part of panel
    badly wormeaten.

    CONSERVATION: [Information from 36]
    Restored prior to entering
    NM: Extensively renovated, probably at
    about the turn of the century 1900, various
    overpaintings removed; highlights and patterns
    in white paint improved; new background
    of darker red over the original cinnabar;
    inscriptions reconstructed; new
    ground and paint layer for lower part and
    borders; NM 1965–66: new ground and
    painting on bottom parts and on borders
    removed, secondary raised border along
    inner sides removed, darkened varnish re -
    moved (B.Titov); 1995: 36: test patch
    in upper left corner showing original red
    colour (Y. Bobrov). Minor cracks in upper
    and lower parts of panel; serious damage to
    lower section and along the upper border,
    with losses of wood, ground and paint later;
    ground and paint layers missing along left
    border; surface abraded; varnish yellowed;
    lower part of icon badly worm-eaten

    Whereas the identity of the male figure
    is perfectly clear, the female figure pres -
    ents more of a problem. The cross in
    her right hand and the gesture with her
    left – held upwards and with the palm
    towards the beholder – indicates that
    this is a martyr, at the same time as the
    omophorion shows that she may be a
    nun. If so, the figure could, for example,
    represent one of the martyrs Ustinia or
    Evdokia. Identification is complicated,
    however, by the three stars of virginity
    on the figure’s omophorion, which
    usually only occur in depictions of the
    Mother of God, and also by the doubly
    patterned tunics. Future technical examinations
    will have to show whether
    the stars and the patterns are original.
    The inward looking gaze of the two
    figures suggests that there was once a
    central section, which may have been
    occupied by the Mother of God, stand -
    ing or enthroned or by Christ.1 It is
    also possible that a representation of St
    Nicholas was positioned there.2 Smirnova’s
    surmise that the icons were done
    on different kinds of wood has been
    disproved by technical examination.3
    The structure of the carnation, with
    olive-green shades for the prim ing,
    suggests an early date. The massive
    figural drawing, the clear colours ap -
    plied in complete fields, the red background
    and the yellow halo, place this
    icon within the Novgorod region.
    Smirnova has pointed out the resemblances
    between the patterns of this icon
    and those found in the icon of Nicholas
    of Lipna, dated 1294, as well as on
    some of the border scenes of the St
    Nicholas icon mentioned in note 2.4
    Technical features such as the thin
    gesso ground and the lack of a linen
    cloth point to a somewhat provincial
    Smirnova dates these icons to the first
    half of the 14th century. On technical
    and stylistic grounds, they could quite
    well be dated to the late 13th century.5
    1 Cf. the Mother of God of Peshchora, c. 1288,
    Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow (inv. no 12723);
    Bruk 1995, p 70.
    2 Cf. the icon St Nicholas, St Cosmas and St
    Damian with scenes from the Life of St Nicholas,
    Russian Museum, St Petersburg (inv. no 3032),
    Smirnova 1976, pp 199, 300.
    3 Smirnova 1984, p 64.
    4 ibid., pp 65-66.
    5 Abel 1996:1, p 15.