8 June 2009
GREEK (IONIAN ISLANDS, CORFU?), CIRCA 1700
65 by 48 cm.
Literature: Exhibition catalogue, D’un Autre Monde. Icônes Inconnues et Art Byzantin, Koninklijk Museum, Antwerp, 1997, no. 31.
On the top of the composition, the New Testament Trinity appears amidst the clouds of the open heavens. Christ and God the Father are shown seated, Their feet resting on wheels of fire, whereas the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove against a gold circular glory is represented between Them. Further down, the archangels Michael and Gabriel place a crown with sumptuous foliage decoration on the head of the Mother of God. The image is surrounded by thirteen cartouches ornamented with baroque foliage, portraying from the upper left side, Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory, the Apostles Peter and Paul, the Emperor St. Constantine and his Mother Helena raising the True Cross, the military saints George and Dimitrios, St. Filaretos, followed by the monastic St. Anthony, Sts. Charalambos, Spyridon, Nikolaos and John the Theologian. The panel is rendered with bright colours and an impressive amount of gold ornamentation and flowers around the cartouches. Despite the fact that the icon portrays the traditional image of the Hodegetria, where the Mother of God looks at the viewer and directs one’s attention to her Son, the identifying inscription, written in gold on the light blue background, refers to another image, that of the “All Merciful” (Eleousa). The same applies to the verse from Isaiah 61:1 which appears on the open Book displayed by Christ; this line is usually encountered on the icon of the “Axion Estin”. Therefore, the present image is a variant of the “Hodegetria” that draws on a number of visual sources.
Notes on symbols:
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