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Museum of Russian Icons receives major gift of more than 100 works
Saint Barbara, 19th c., The Edward and Joan Simpson Collection. Courtesy Museum of Russian Icons.


CLINTON, MASS.- The Museum of Russian Icons has announced that Boston area collectors Edward and Joan Simpson have donated their exceptional collection of 18th and 19th century Russian icons and sacred artifacts to the Museum–a donation that will be the largest and most valuable single gift since founder Gordon B. Lankton established the Museum in 2006. The only museum in the US dedicated to Russian icons, the Museum of Russian Icons has the largest collection of icons outside of Russia; and is a center for the study and enjoyment of Russian culture.

“We are extremely grateful to the Simpsons for their support of the mission of the Museum in such a generous way,” said Kent Russell, curator and CEO of the Museum. “The Edward and Joan Simpson Collection, as it will be known, joins the close to 1000 icons the museum presently owns. The gift fills in some of the missing pieces in the chronological history of the Russian icon in our collection, bringing the Museum closer to being an encyclopedic collection tracing the entire arc of the development of the sacred arts in Orthodox Russia.”

“Edward and Joan Simpson are inveterate collectors. Among their many collections, the Russian icons stood out as particularly important,” continues Russell. “Numbering ninety one icons and twenty eight related Russian Orthodox objects, such as bronze crosses and a jeweled and enameled wedding crown, this is the most significant private donation since we opened the Museum 10 years ago.“

Edward Simpson traveled to the Soviet Union, and later to Russia, beginning in the early 1990s, during the same period Gordon Lankton was traveling to Russia for business purposes. Both collectors acquired many of their icons from Moscow’s famous open-air Izmaylovo Market.

Whereas Gordon Lankton was primarily attracted to the traditional Old Believer style in icons produced from the 15th through 18th centuries that are often characterized by the use of metal, the Simpsons’ collection contains 18th and 19th century icons more openly influenced by European religious art.

“These Europeanized icons reflect the prevailing taste of Russians from the late 18th century onward,” added Russell. “And it is precisely in these periods and styles of icon painting that the Museum had significant gaps. This gift adds many unusual icon subjects such as the Pure Soul, Prayer of the Cup, rare examples of carved icons, a wedding crown, and new regions and styles not previously represented in our collection.”

Joan and Edward Simpson, residents of Bourne, MA, run a national property development business. They travel extensively, and are also avid collectors of works by American painters.

“Joan and I are delighted to donate our collection of Russian icons and religious items to the Museum,” Edward Simpson said. “We know the Museum of Russian Icons will be exceptional custodians of the collection and we couldn’t be happier that our collection has found a home where they can be displayed and shared with the widest audience possible.”

In celebration of this historic milestone, the Museum has created a special exhibition of twenty-four icons in the Auditorium Gallery, on display now through June 17, 2018.






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