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- Date of production 1631
- Place of creation Western Lemkivshchyna, Poland
- Place of discovery Szczawnik, Poland
- Dimensions height: 128 cm, width: 97 cm, thickness: 3.7 cm
- ID no. MNS/683/S
- Branch The Gothic House
- Availability “The Orthodox Church art from the 15th to the 19th century“ exhibition
- Acquired date 1950
- Object copyright Nowy Sącz District Museum
- Digital images copyright public domain
- Digitalisation RDW MIC, Małopolska's Virtual Museums project
The icon was originally located in an Orthodox church in Szczawnik, a village situated to the north of Muszyna. Its central part is filled with a whole-figure depiction of St. Michael the Archangel, shown en face, who is holding a sword up in his right hand; in his left hand, he is holding a scabbard. The figure is dressed as an armed warrior, with a short tunic, armour and a tied above his left shoulder.more
This icon has been in the Nowy Sącz collection since 1950. It arrived at the museum as a result of the action of securing the property formerly belonging to Lemko people. This action was carried out in 1947, by the Provincial Conservator of Monuments in Kraków, on the recommendation of the Ministry of Culture and Art, in connection with the mass deportation of the Lemkos. At that time, a group of historians and conservators toured Lemko villages in the Nowy Sącz area, collecting objects found in attics and lean-tos. The artefacts left behind by the departing inhabitants – which had been exposed to destruction or theft – were deposited in the rented Museum Depot in Muszyna, after having been labelled with cards stating the name of the town.
The icon was originally located in an Orthodox church in Szczawnik, a village situated to the north of Muszyna. Its central part is filled with a whole-figure depiction of St. Michael the Archangel, shown en face, who is holding a sword up in his right hand; in his left hand, he is holding a scabbard. The figure is dressed as an armed warrior, with a short tunic, armour and a tied above his left shoulder.
On the vertical sides and at the bottom, there is a klejmo – a border with narrative scenes, described by the vestiges of preserved inscriptions. From the top, from left to right in pairs, these are: 1. Christ blesses the Archangel; 2. the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise; 3. preventing Abraham from sacrificing his son; 4. Jacob wrestling; 5. the guard over the three young men in the fiery furnace; 6. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; 7. Habakkuk bringing food for Daniel to the lion's cave; 8. the passage of the Jews across the Red Sea; 9. the entrance to the Promised Land; 10. the archangel stands in the way of Balaam. In the lower left corner of the icon, there is a Cyrillic foundation inscription: “In the year of our Lord, 1631, this painting was commissioned by the servant of God, Marcyj, for his health and the forgiveness of his sins, to the Szczawnica Orthodox church, to the Orthodox church of the holy martyr, Demetrios.”
The date of painting written on the icon allows us to accurately date the object itself, as well as to relate the age of the Orthodox church in Szczawnik to the time before this date. The appearance of the patron’s name is also important for the history of the Orthodox church.
Archangel Michael is considered the vanquisher of Lucifer during the rebellion of angels. For this reason, he is worshipped as a defender in the fight against Satan, the guide of souls along their final journey, and the protector of the Church. The cult of Archangel Michael in Ruthenia has made him a central figure in many icons from this area. He is presented as a warrior and commander of the angelic legions. The pillow sometimes shown under his feet and the golden background accentuate his belonging to heavenly reality and, at the same time, emphasizes the dignity of his imagined character. Archangel Michael is often accompanied by biblical narrative scenes in which he is included.
Elaborated by Maria Marcinowska (Nowy Sącz District Museum), editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved