Icona: Christ Pantocrator

Icona: Christ Pantocrator
(click image to zoom-in)
Painting, Tempera on panel, 64.5x41.5 cm
Origin: Russia, Second half of the 13th century

Christ Pantocrator is one of several types of depiction of Christ which could be used in the middle of a Deesis Row. The Deesis Row is the main part of the iconostasis , expressing the idea of intercession by the saints for mankind before Christ the judge .

This example dates to the second half of the 13th or early 14th century, and is the work of a north Russian master. It comes from the iconostasis of the wooden Church of Elijah in Vyazentsy on the River Onega. Other icons from this iconostasis now in the Hermitage include St Peter, St Paul and the Prophet Elijah.

Christ is shown frontally, waist length, with his right hand raised in blessing, and in his left hand an open Book of Gospels. In terms of iconography, we should note that the image of the Saviour with an open Gospels was, until the 15th century, much rarer than his depiction with a closed book.

The Onega area was taken in the 12th century by the Novgorodians. Yet the icons in the Church of Elijah were by a local artist, rather than a Novgorod painter, as we can tell by the technique and by the use of colour, much darker than the usual bright colours of the Novgorod school.

Personage: Christ
Source of entry: State Hermitage Expedition, Belomorsk, 1958
School: North Russian Schools
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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