Artwork of the Week: August 1, 2022
Russian Icon, Saints Peter and Paul, ca. 1820, tempera on panel, 10 15/16 x 8 3/8 x 7/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Richard B. Oliver, 1972.
This Russian icon celebrates the authority of Peter and Paul, venerated as the two pivotal figures in leading Christ’s early Church. The saints carry the church in their hands and hold items symbolic of their roles and authority: Peter clasps the keys of church leadership, while Paul holds a book signifying his numerous epistles in the New Testament. The two martyred saints were frequently shown together in Orthodox imagery because of their shared influence on early Christianity. Worshippers would pray before icons like this, invoking the grace and authority of the righteous Paul and Peter in conveying their petitions to heaven.