KAUPP auctions in Munich are today expected to begin bids on a number of items including a Cypriot icon of the presentation of Christ which dates back to 1700, while experts are asking for the church to intervene for its repatriation.
According to Kykkos Museum head Stelios Perdikis, the work which belonged to Ralf Rinnebach and was sold on January 4, 1977, has been valued by KAUPP at €2,700 and will be auctioned on October 4 and 5.
Perdikis explained that the icon is undoubtedly Cypriot as the technique falls under the Saint Heraklidios School which flourished on the island during the first decades of the 18th century up until the first thirty years of the 19th century.
“This school is mostly comprised of local iconographers most of whom were monks at the St Heraklidios monastery in Tamassos. This may be the only instance in the entire course of Byzantine and post-Byzantine painting in Cyprus where we can talk about a ‘school’.
“We have a series of famous iconographers who learned from and succeeded each other. With the appearance of Cretan painter Ioannis Kornaros and the introduction of his own aesthetic approach to painting, the art of the St Heraklidios School decayed and perished,” Perdikis said.
The scene of the presentation of Christ depicted on the icon is painted on a gold background. In front there is an isometric building with a dome in the middle and on each side a column-supported construction covered with roof tiles.
The building is reminiscent of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem, where Mary and Joseph took Jesus 40 days after his birth, in accordance with Jewish law.
The icon shows the scene unfolding at the altar, which is covered in a red cloth and holds all the necessary items for the ritual.
The elder Symeon can be seen handing baby Jesus to Mary, who is reaching out to take the child.
Behind Mary is the prophet Anna, who is talking to Joseph, who is holding a pair of pigeons or turtledoves for the sacrifice.
It is believed that the icon originated from the occupied areas after the 1974 invasion and was part of a wider series of icons which presented Christ and the Virgin Mary. These icons are typically placed at the shrine above the larger icons.