Two-Sided Tablet Icon: The Old Testament Trinity. On the Reverse: The Finding of the Head of John the Baptist and the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

Two-Sided Tablet Icon: The Old Testament Trinity. On the Reverse: The Finding of the Head of John the Baptist and the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste
(click image to zoom-in)
Painting, Tempera on canvas and gilding, 22.9x17.3 cm
Origin: Russia, First half of the 16th century

Tablet icons came to be known a such in the early 20th century; before that in Ancient Rus these icons painted on canvas were called "towels". They were placed on a lectern on the festivals depicted on the icon. Several compositions on a single icon was a common occurrence.

The first subject, the Old Testament Trinity, is based on the Bible story of how God appeared to Abraham in the form of three angels in the plains of Mamre . In Russian icon painting several traditional versions of the composition were to be found. This image belongs to the "welcoming" type, which has is a detailed depiction of Abraham and his wife Sarah with the Lord.

The Finding of the Head of John the Baptist occupies the top half of the reverse of the tablet. John's head lies in a golden dish approached and revered by a young king in a golden headdress and by servants of the church. Various Christian festivals record the miraculous finding of John the Baptist's head centuries after he was put to death.

The second scene on the reverse shows the forty martyrs of Sebaste, Christian warriors who refused to make sacrifices to pagan gods, for which they were tortured and put to death. One of the tortures involved spending the night in a lake covered with ice.

The tablet icon was painted by a Novgorod master who made use of Moscow models: for instance The Old Testament Trinity reveals the clear influence of Andrey Rublyov's work on the same subject. There is some difference in painterly style between the two sides of the tablet. One basis for the attribution to Novgorod is the abundance of bright red in the clothes.

Personage: The Trinity
Source of entry: Purchasing Commission of the Experts of the State Hermitage Museum, 1965
School: Novgorod
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

Site map

Albums Authors Countries Sources Epoches Exibitions Genres
Personages Schools Styles Techniques Themes Types Workshops

Image Use Policy

Unless otherwise noted, images this web site may be used for any purpose without prior permission.

Any material in the public domain found on this web site is not protected by copyright.

We make no representations or warranties with respect to ownership of copyrights in the images, and do not represent others who may claim to be authors or owners of copyright of any of the images, and make no warranties as to the quality of the images.

We shall not be responsible for any loss or expenses resulting from the use of the images, and you release and hold us harmless from all liability arising from such use.

We do not sell art prints, framed posters or reproductions. Ads are shown only to compensate the hosting expenses.