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The British Museum loans two spectacular icons to Virginia's Chrysler Museum of Art
Mother of God with Saints, also known as The Werhner. Triptych, 900s, Byzantine, Ivory, British Museum, 1978,0502.10.

NORFOLK, VA.- Look through more than 150 “windows onto heaven” with the Chrysler Museum of Art’s fall keynote exhibition, Saints and Dragons: Icons from Byzantium to Russia. Organized by the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Mass., in cooperation with The British Museum in London, Saints and Dragons comprises scores of rare icons and artifacts, each an extraordinary work of religious, historical, and artistic significance. Through these compelling works, visitors can explore the sacred art of the Orthodox Church from its Greek origins in ancient Byzantium and through the storied history of Christianity in Russia and beyond.

The exhibition breaks new ground in that it marks the first time that The British Museum has loaned two of its most spectacular icons to any American museum. The opportunity to view its Saint John the Forerunner (Constantinople, ca. 1300) and the famous Miracle of Saint George and the Dragon (also known as the “Black Saint George,” (Russia, late-14th century)—two of the oldest and finest icons in existence—as well as dozens of other important works makes Saints and Dragons a must-see exhibition.

“The Chrysler Museum of Art is very fortunate to have these rare and beautiful works of art on loan,” says Director Erik Neil. “You’d have to travel quite a ways to have the opportunity to see such stunning and significant icons again.”

Susan Leidy, the Chrysler’s Deputy Director and project manager for the exhibition, agrees. “We’ve been working for a number of years with our colleagues in New England and London to bring these exceptional works of art and devotion to audiences in Norfolk. We are proud that the Chrysler Museum of Art is one of the only two places in the United States where these works will be shown,” she says.

In fact, Saints and Dragons at the Chrysler is the only American venue ever to display six ivory icons from the collection of The British Museum. Though The Museum of Russian Icons had requested these ancient works for the show’s debut, government restrictions on the import of elephant ivory precluded their inclusion. With the help of officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Chrysler was able to gain the approvals to secure them for this expanded version of the exhibition.

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