Our goal at Damascene Gallery is to provide high quality traditional Orthodox icons, whether they be authentic Antique Icons, beautiful new hand painted icons or our High Quality Mounted Icons. In fact, it was our experience with Antique Icons that spawned the idea for our High Quality Series of mounted icons. Those who have held or venerated a beautiful Antique Icon understand that such icons have a presence about them that is difficult to put into words… there is a beauty in ancient icons, a beauty which is, of course, bound up with the other-worldliness of Orthodox religious painting, but this beauty is also related to the materials and methods that the painters of traditional icons used.
The boards used in Antique Icons were solid wood boards, typically chosen from the best materials available. If a large icon was to be painted, it was constructed from a number of solid wood boards glued together with all grains in the same direction. Because solid wood has a tendency to warp or curve over time, icon panels had hardwood slats inserted into the reverse of the panels with the grain of the slats being perpendicular to that of the main icon panel itself.
As a result, antique icons are usually quite heavy, and when one holds such an icon in one’s hands, it is immediately apparent that this is a sacred object, a window to the Divine. Many modern iconographers, following in the footsteps of their predecessors, are currently using panels identical in design to those used in Antique Icons and, in particular, the use of such panels is experiencing a significant resurgence in Russian Iconography.
The obvious question, then, is what, if any, impact all of this should have on the modern day Orthodox Church, in which by far the majority of icons owned and venerated privately are in fact, not hand painted icons, but are mounted icons, consisting of a printed image affixed to a wooden panel of some sort. The majority of mounted icons available today are mounted to relatively thin panels (by comparison to those typically used in antiquity) and are in fact usually mounted to plywood. Support slats are not added. These mounted icons have provided a great service to the Orthodox Church in that they have made images of our Orthodox saints nearly universally available.
In considering all of this, we at Damascene Gallery realized that, in addition to providing beautiful Antique and Newly Painted Icons, perhaps it would make sense to also offer a new type of mounted icon, a type of mounted icon that closely resembles the look and feel of traditional icons painted on traditional boards with solid wood slats. We began by creating several prototypes consisting of ultra high quality giclee prints on canvas mounted to traditional boards and we were shocked by the beauty of the product. The resulting icons have a richness and depth from the canvas giclee prints that resembles that of fine art paintings, which use such canvases as their preferred medium. Additionally, the use of greater-than-one-inch-thick (>1″) solid wood panels with support slats restores the “presence” one perceives when handling an Antique Icon. In short, we are so pleased with the result that we added all necessary equipment required to produce larger quantities of such icons to our woodworking shop and decided to add the High Quality series to our offerings on the Damascene Gallery storefront.
To begin with, we have partnered with the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY and plan to work with them for the foreseeable future to provide the beautiful iconography of the Jordanville School on our High Quality panels. In addition to this, we are working to launch our own “Damascus Series” icons, which will be fully online several weeks after the launch of the store. The “Damascus Series” will consist of prints of most of our beautiful Antique Icon inventory, as well as most well-known icons of spiritual and historical significance within the Orthodox Church.
In addition to the sizes listed for our mounted icons on the storefront, most of our images, from both the Holy Trinity Monastery series and the Damascus Series, are available in ultra-large format. If you are interested in a large-format Damascene Gallery mounted icon, please contact us. Also, please contact us if there is an icon you would like mounted using our process that is not immediately available on the store… the chances are that we already have the icon and are working to add it to our Damascus Series anyway. Your request will prompt us to move it to the top of the list!
We hope you will find our High Quality Mounted Icons to be as beautiful as we do. We have no doubt that, if you are a lover of icons, you will absolutely love our offerings. We invite you to give us a chance to share our products with you!
In Christ God, the Divine Word Made Flesh,
Priest Jonah Campbell
Co-founder, Damascene Gallery