Art: Icons in Baltimore

The fragrance of incense, the throb of Russian choir music, a dazzle of peacock blues, flaming reds and gold filled the Baltimore Museum. It was also filled with socialite art tasters and leather-jacketed shipyard workers who had come to see "The Golden Age of the Russian Icon"—sacred pictures from the ancient towns of Holy Russia (Kiev, Novgorod, Moscow) in the religious setting that alone gives them meaning.

Against a tremendous improvised iconostasis (a screen built to hold icons when cathedral walls were full), visitors saw the tall spare figures of saints and Virgins,...

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