Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Icon Secret

So, as I was saying, I have this icon painting that is pretty old.  When my uncle visited my husband's car repair business with his car, he slipped this icon to him telling him to give it to me.  My father's oldest brother was an artist with wood.  He refinished antique furniture, made his own pieces, violins, really beautiful things.  When my husband and I were getting married, my uncle was going to refinish a Louis XVI chair for us as a gift.  He had three chairs and he was going to use two of them to finish the better of the three.  Well, his wife, my aunt, found them in his workshop at home and threw them out with the trash!  Louis XVI chairs!

I don't know what happened when my uncle found out, but he ended up making us a backgammon board with different natural colored woods, inlaid in the typical design and rubbed to a glossy finish.  It's a beautiful piece, but it's not a Louis XVI chair.

He came to the repair shop with the icon hidden in his coat.  He told my husband not to say anything about it as he slipped him the painting, holding his finger to his lips.  We never discussed the wheres and the whys of how he came to own it.  Not too long afterwards he had passsed away, but thrilled to know I was in possession of this icon.  I do know that he wanted me to paint in the parts that were missing.  How could I do that?  I didn't want to touch it and left it as it was.

At one time my uncle had his own furniture refinishing business, but it didn't work out.  He ended up working in Manhattan at a company called Dalva Brothers where he stayed for a long time.  He had some of his own clients as well and did some work in his home.  Maybe someone gave it to him to finish?  Maybe he found it somewhere in a shop?  I don't know, but I own it now and it's hanging on my wall. 

The icon depicts the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary.  You can see the Angel announcing the news to Mary.  What's interesting about this icon is that God is also depicted, which is very rare, and his word is shown as a dove.  It was painted on a wood surface with some kind of fabric backing and it's curved.  A frame was fashioned to fit around the curve.  It's really beautiful.  A couple of artist friends looked at it once and thought it may be Venetian in style.  Now that I've seen the El Greco and Cretan icon paintings I'm thinking the same thing, but could it be that old?  What to do now? 

This week I plan to do some investigating by looking up someone to bring this icon to evaluate it, possibly at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It may be the only place I could get an idea without someone trying to steal it from me!  Hey, you never know.


  1. OOh its lovely! you have an art mystery on your hands...definately have someone you can trust evaluate it!

  2. I know! I'm googling to see who might be the most reliable person to take it to. Should be interesting!


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