On finding an icon in Kyiv

On finding an icon in Kyiv

Walking down Andriyivskyy Descent in Kyiv we saw a couple of tables with soviet relics. One of the salesman was very nice and chatty and when he found out about our obsession with everything soviet, he advised us to visit the biggest exhibition of antiques in Ukraine the next day. How lucky were we to be there exactly at that time! Bas immediately called to rearrange his trip to Chernobyl and Alina started to look for a currency exchange to have lots of cash for tomorrow.

Exhibition day

The next day we arrived there and it was heaven! We had to buy tickets for €3,50. Not too expensive for heaven, right?

Imagine all the soviet things you can and now double it! That’s what we saw there. Propaganda and movie posters, oil paintings, watches, icons, coins, medals, furniture, even cutlery and porcelain from the Tsar times. Bas had to pull Alina off from a guy with all this silver and ivory tableware.

Well look at this...

A Christ Pantocrator icon from Borisovskaya Sloboda, Russia.

"Just an icon"

Wandering around we saw a small icon hidden in between soviet porcelain and some medals on pennants. The salesman didn’t know much about it as his passion was tableware and it was “just an icon”. We decided to buy it and research later. The name of this icon is Christ Pantocrator (from Ancient Greek “omnipotent”). According to people who sell old icons for a living this particular one is from 1880s – 1900s. That you can tell by the drawing style and the fact that it was painted directly on the wood. The style of the painting also tells us it’s from Borisovskaya Sloboda, Russia. Borisovskaya Sloboda was the center of icon painting in Russia before the Soviet Union.

Of course our first thought was to go to this city in Russia (the Soviet government changed the name to Borisovka) and find out all that we can, but when we got in contact with our Russian friends the next day we found out icons are included in cultural heritage and we would not be able to take it out of the country. We found an opportunity to officially identify this one in Ukraine and receive a certificate of originality, but it immediately would be registered as cultural heritage there as well! So we decided to not take this risk and bring it back home with us — for you to be able to enjoy it as well.

About this piece of art

There is a hole in the back of the painting which was made to hang it on the wall and there are old nails on the front. Nails on the front were holding metal foil to protect the corners from being damaged.

In the little cracks you can see white substance – which is called levkas. Levkas is a special chalk mixed with animal or fish glue and some linseed oil. Levkas was used as a base for painting, because they used tempera paints which were made from eggs, water and pigments.

It is now definitely one of the pearls our collection!

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Oblomov Art


We love old posters and little items from forgotten times. Or think about a children's book from fifty or sixty years ago. It's fun to look at and to imagine what people were doing and thinking back then.

That's why: we see the beauty in every object and art is everywhere to be discovered.

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