Stella Duncan Collection

Master of St. Gregory

Master of Saint Gregory
Spanish Altar Panel
wood support, ca. 1490, 28"x 26", 
Donated by Ms. Raymonde Erszanski

Donated in 1949, this collection of antiquities ranges from Renaissance paintings to Chinese grave figurines, including, a Flemish portrait of a Spanish Gentleman (ca. 1574), a 15thcentury Russian Icon of Mary, a second Russian icon from the 17th century, and an Armenian Psalms Cover.

Stella Duncan

Stella Louise Duncan, daughter of Robert Andrew and Jemima Duncan, was born in Glendive, Montana in September of 1887, though the family soon moved to Kalispell, Montana.  In 1905, Duncan began attending The University of Montana, graduating with a B.A. in 1907. Duncan briefly taught school in Glendive sometime between 1907 and 1910, returning to northwest Montana to settle in Whitefish, and then returned to the University as a graduate student in Modern Languages between 1912 and 1914. She was active in theatre and performed in numerous plays, was a member of the Dramatic Club and Theta Phi and attended dances, dinners and sports events.   The Archives and Special Collections at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library contain two travel diaries which provide insights into how Duncan assembled such a remarkable collection.  The diaries detail a 1927 trip to Europe including England and Ireland and a 1932 trip to Russia.

Armenian Psalms Cover, Brass and Silver, 5 ½ x 4 inches on each leaf, Donated by Stella Duncan

Russian Icon of Mary, 15th century, Egg Tempera, Silver Reposse and Wood Support, approximately 9 1/2 x 12 inches , Donated by Stella Duncan
This 15th century Russian Icon of Mary is painted with egg tempera on wood, with a hand-made high relief repousse sterling silver cover (riza).  The crucifixion of Christ is depicted at the right side in the background.  The Greek abbreviation of Mary's title: Meter Theotokos of "Mother of Go" is next to Mary's head.

Icon painting in Russia, as elsewhere, has followed traditional canons.  As a result, the forms of the Russian icon remain unchanged through the centuries.  However, the enormous and varied iconography of the Mother of God in icons is impressive.  There are no less than 300 types, all different.

Icons which represent individual saints have been the object of veneration.  Icons are intended to aid contemplative prayer.  They are more concerned with conveying meditative harmony than with depicting illusionistic space.