Byzantine Icons of Cyprus
Byzantine Icons of Cyprus
The Exhibition of Byzantine Icons from Cyprus at the Benaki Museum is an admirable way of making the presence of Cyprus felt in the metropolis of Greek culture. Through the medium of this exhibition, Cyprus presents a true image of herself: the image of a creator of beauty — of magnificent works of art that form an integral part of the island’s rich cultural heritage.
In Cyprus we see a noteworthy, and probably unique, instance of a nation that never once gave up its creative pursuits, in spite of all the vicissitudes caused by long spells of foreign domination. This unbroken perseverance lasted many centuries: we have only to remember that the history of Cypriot culture covers no less than eight thousand years. It is a culture full of vitality, distinguished by powerful imagination and an amazing capacity for renewal. The works of art reflect the very essence of Cyprus’ spirit. In the sixty-four icons of this exhibition, fortunate survivors of the savage plunder of the recent Turkish invasion, we find the living imprint of that profound piety so characteristic of the “holy island”, as Leontius Machairas, the 15th century chronicler, described Cyprus.
We wish to express our gratitude to His Beatitude, Makarios, Archbishop of Cyprus, and to the Church of Cyprus as a whole, for making the icons available for the purpose of this exhibition. Sincere thanks are also due to the Benaki Museum, the Greek Embassy in Cyprus and all those who have contributed to the successful organization of the exhibition. This event is an act of homage to the martyred island which lives so poignantly in the hearts of all Greeks.
PATROCLOS STAVROU Under-Secretary to the President of the Cypriot Republic
At this critical moment in our country’s history, particularly relevant to the survival of the hellenic tradition in Cyprus, the present Exhibition takes on a special significance and emphasizes the unbreakable bonds, spiritual and artistic, uniting Cyprus with Greece, the Mother Country.
It is necessary to stress in these few lines that the realization of this Exhibition is due first and foremost to the generous assistance of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, and to the enthusiasm of Mr. Constantine Tsatsos, President of the Hellenic Republic, who kindly undertook to sponsor the Exhibition. Its indubitable importance lies in the exceptional quality of the icons presented: there is no doubt that it will prove to be an event of unrivalled significance in the greek cultural scene over a long period.
Thanks is also due to the Cypriot Authorities for their wholehearted assistance in selecting and cataloguing the icons. On behalf of the Governing Board of the Benaki Museum, I wish to express my warm thanks to Mr. P. Stavrou, Undersecretary to the President of the Cypriot Republic, Mr. N. Kranidiotis, Ambassador of Cyprus in Greece and Mr. A. Papageorghiou, Ephor of Byzantine Antiquities of Cyprus.
Acknowledgement is also due to the valuable assistance offered by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. D. Bitsios and the Minister for Culture and Science, Mr.
Finally we must add our warmest thanks to the Executive Committee and all the staff of the Benaki Museum, whose spontaneous enthusiasm made possible the exemplary presentation of these priceless treasures from Cyprus.
Byzantine Art, a European Art. Catalogue of the 9th Exhibition under the Auspices of the Council of Europe, Athens 1964 (second edition).
Byzantine painting developed very early in Cyprus, in spite of the fact that St. Epiphanios, Bishop of Salamis (368-403), strongly opposed it during the first stages of its emergence. We have evidence of this early development from written sources and also from a few surviving paintings which have been dated back to the 6th century. Theodore the Studite mentions that the church built by Sabinus, disciple and successor of St. Epiphanios to the see of Salamis, in honour of his teacher, was “decorated from the entire story of the Gospels”. We are given similar information by John of Damascus in the first Apologetikos. Further evidence of the widespread use of painting in the ornamentation of Cypriot churches in the early Byzantine period is provided by the account of Constantine of Constantia in the Acts of the 7th Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (787) on the necessity to honour icons. Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople, made similar exhortations, and laid particular stress on the extensive use of icons in the decoration of Cypriot churches. Nicephorus’ statements are also confirmed by the mosaics found in the apses of three village churches at some distance from the ancient cities of Cyprus: the church of Panaghia Kanakaria at Lythrankomi, the church of Panaghia Kyra near Livadia, in the Famagusta area, and the church of Panaghia Angeloktistos at Kiti; the mosaics have been dated to the 6th century. This is also the date given to the only surviving proto-Byzantine wall-painting at Nicodemus’ Haghiasma at Salamis.
Surviving monuments are a clear indication of the development of monumental painting in Cyprus and confirm the written evidence of the 8th and 9th centuries mentioned above. It should be added, however, that no icons have Survived from that period. The references made by John of Damascus, Constantine of Constantia and Nicephorus of Constantinople to the icons that adorned the churches of Cyprus should be taken in the wider sense of painting in general. This is quite evident in the account of Constantine of Constantia at the Council of Nicaea: he states clearly that the icons are frescoes. This does not mean that the existence of icons should be excluded during that early period. The 6th and 7th century icons at Mount Sinai, Kiev (these also came from Sinai) and Rome prove that icons were already used in churches in the early Byzantine period.
It may seem strange that no icons of that early date have been found in Cyprus, all the more so as Cyprus was not involved in the iconoclastic controversy. However, iconoclastic feeling did perhaps influence the people of the island to a small extent, as shown by the account of Constantine of Constantia mentioned above and also by an indirect allusion made by John of Damascus. On the whole, though, it can be said that Cyprus remained faithful to the worship of icons. In the Life of St. Stephen the Younger, Cyprus is classified among the three places which were not affected by the iconoclastic controversy and which offered refuge to the Saint’s disciples. Indeed, during the period of the controversy, it appears that Cyprus attracted a large number of icon-worshipping monks, either because they found safety and shelter on the island, or because they were exiled there, as mentioned by Theophanes. This author’s evidence is corroborated by the Life of Romanus the Neomartyr.
During this early period, Cyprus became a centre of painting, attracting many monks from Asia Minor in spite of the dangerous conditions caused by frequent Arab incursions. Cyprus continued to be a place of pilgrimage for Asia Minor monks in the following two centuries, as we are told in the Life of St. Peter of Atroa and that of St. Constantine the Jew 2. We have no way of knowing how these monks — among whom there were undoubtedly a number of painters — influenced the development of painting, and icon-painting in particular, in the island of Cyprus. The small vaulted church of Saint Solomoni, near Coma of Yialos, is the only monument preserving a few half-destroyed frescoes that can be assigned with any certainty to the 8th – 9th century. The archaic iconographic programme and the type of iconography, which are only to be found during the period prior to the iconoclastic controversy, are combined in these frescoes with a strong oriental influence reminiscent of the earlier Cappadocian monuments. The style of the frescoes of this small church is quite alien to the painting of Cyprus, as known to us from previous specimens (6th century) and subsequent ones (from the 10th century onwards).
The practice of icon-painting in Cyprus during this early period may be inferred from two important facts: In the first place, the monks who took refuge in Cyprus were icon-worshippers; therefore it is only natural that they should have brought along with them icons which they believed to be miraculous or considered palladia of their monasteries. These must have served as a nucleus around which each group of monks founded their new monastic centre. The new monastery naturally took on the name of the establishment left behind. How else is one to explain the existence of Cypriot monasteries bearing the same names as monasteries in Constantinople and Asia Minor? It is true that all references to these monasteries (Monastery of St. George of Mangana, Monastery of Megalos Agros, Monastery of Stylos, etc.) are of a later date (13th century onwards). This does not mean they were also built at a later date. On the contrary, the references seem to imply that they had been built long ago. Unfortunately, the monasteries were destroyed (St. George of Mangana in the 16th century, Megalos Agros at the end of the 19th century, and Stylos at some unknown date), so that we have no first-hand evidence about the kind of painting that was produced there. However, it seems quite certain that the artistic trends prevailing in Constantinople and Asia Minor were also prevalent in Cyprus; we will come across the repercussions of these trends at a later time, in the painting of the Middle and Late Byzantine periods and the Frankish occupation.
Cypriot art was similarly influenced by trends that developed in Alexandria and Egypt in general, where Cypriot contacts were close, as indicated by Cypriot hagiographical texts of the 7th century. This influence, already discernible in a fresco representing a nilotic scene at Nicodemus’ Haghiasma in Salamis, dating from the 6th century, becomes quite marked in the two oldest icons that have survived in Cyprus, and which may be safely dated to the 9th century. Their dimensions are relatively small; the first, which is kept at the church of the Phaneromeni in Nicosia, shows the Virgin Mary half-length, her hands raised in prayer. The rounded, oval face, the large, wide-open eyes that seem to contemplate infinity, the clear- cut features, and the encaustic technique bear eloquent witness to the influence still exercised at the time by the early Christian art of Egypt. The second icon is kept in the Metropolis of Kiti at Lamaca. Three saints are shown standing in a frontal pose; a young, beardless martyr on the left, a rather elderly, grey-haired and grey- bearded man in the middle, holding a medallion of Christ (possibly St. Menas),
and a young bearded martyr on the right. The icon is in fairly good condition, but needs to be cleaned and restored before any correct estimate of its value can be attempted. Nevertheless, the massive proportions, the short, thick-set bodies and large heads, the heavy, vertical draping, the austere frontal position with the large wide-open eyes are reminiscent of a series of icons from Mount Sinai that has been assigned to the same period.
Yet another trend is discernible in the fragment of an icon depicting three Apostles (No. 1) from the church of the Archangel Michael at Lefkoniko. These three figures (all that remains of a multi-figured composition) reveal a number of features, such as clear-cut physiognomic traits, emphatic stylization, a linear design that makes no attempt to suggest the third dimension, and finally the manner of using white highlights, which all bring to mind certain frescoes of the 11th century, to which this icon must also be assigned.
The great peak of icon-painting in Cyprus coincides with the development of monumental painting in the 12th century. From the end of the 11th century, monastic life flourished in Cyprus: many new monasteries were founded, several of which have survived to this day. Monasteries continued to be built — in many instances with the assistance of the Byzantine emperors — throughout the 12th century. Thanks to generous imperial endowments, the monasteries were enriched and embellished with icons from Constantinople. The most celebrated among these is the Virgin Eleoussa of Kykkos; it was brought to Cyprus at the end of the 11th century by the monk Isaiah, the founder of the Kykkos monastery. According to tradition, this is one of the three icons of the Virgin painted by St. Luke. Unfortunately it is concealed behind a silver-gilt revetment, so that it is impossible to form an accurate opinion of it. However, this type of icon depicting the Virgin became known specifically as the Virgin of Kykkos (Kykkotissa), which at an early date grew very popular outside Cyprus, from Mount Sinai to Russia. In Cyprus itself, this type was in widespread use from the 14th century onwards. Three icons of this type are included in this exhibition (Nos. 27, 29 and 30); they are from the churches of the Virgin of Asinou, of the Virgin Chrysaliniotissa in Nicosia and of St. Marina at Kalopanayiotis, respectively.
Several 12th century icons have withstood time and reached us almost intact. They enable one to study the evolution of icon-painting and its relation to wall painting. It is fortunate that important 12th century frescoes have survived in Cyprus with inscriptions giving exact dates. In this way, it has been possible, by means of the comparative method, to date the icons of the 12th century, even though they are not actually dated. The main conclusion to be drawn from such a comparison is that the artists who painted frescoes also painted icons and that they adopted the same iconographic and stylistic conventions, despite the considerable difference in size (icons were of a limited size, whereas frescoes covered large surfaces). The icons therefore provide valuable help in investigating the relation between monumental ensembles and in determining the identity of painters, whenever their names happen to be mentioned.
The icon of the Virgin from the church of the Chrysaliniotissa at Nicosia (No. 3) also belongs to the 12th century. Unfortunately only the faces of Christ and the Virgin have been preserved intact; the rest of the icon was painted over at a later date, perhaps in the 15th century. It belongs to the same type as the icon of the Vladimir Virgin at the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow. The features of the figures of the Cypriot icon are more marked, less refined. A series of the finest and best preserved icons to have been found in Cyprus may be assigned to the last two decades of the 12th century. Several of these icons are on show in this exhibition. Another icon, among the most beautiful works of the late 12th century, is the Archangel from the catholicon of the Chrysostom monastery of Koutsoventis; like all the other icons of the catholicon, it was stolen by Turkish invaders when they plundered and desecrated the monastery and all the other churches in the area they occupied.
Two other icons, the Virgin Eleoussa and Christ Philanthropos (Nos. 4 and 5), come from the Enkleistra of St. Neophytos at Paphos. They were both processional icons; this explains the foliate crosses painted at the back. The wooden poles upon which they were carried around during reltgious processions were broken off at a later date. The icon of the Virgin has been preserved in excellent condition. In contrast, Christ’s face has been painted over in the 15th or 16th century. Both these icons are closely related, in style and iconography, to the frescoes of the bema at the Enkleistra, which are dated 1183. Thus there are sufficient grounds to ascribe the two icons to the same period.
Two other fine icons, the Virgin Arakiotissa (No. 6) and Christ (No. 7), from the church of the Virgin of Arakas, which has frescoes dated 1192, were produced by the same workshop as the icons of the Enkleistra. They are both copies of frescoes that decorate the Cell and bema of the Enkleistra of St. Neophytos. There are also remarkable similarities to the frescoes at the church of the Virgin of Arakas itself, formerly the catholicon of the monastery by the same name.
The half-destroyed, but important, icon of the Dormition from the church of the Holy Cross at Pedhoulas (No. 8) and the beautiful icon of the Helkomenos (No. 9) from the church of the Holy Cross at Pelendri can be dated around 1200. The sturdy, serene figures, which are yet marvellously expressive, the draperies and the technique point to this dating. In particular, the icon of the Dormition of the Virgin introduces for the first time the halo in relief, a device which was to become widespread in the ensuing centuries. A result of the poverty that befell Cyprus after it was conquered by the Crusaders, it is a humble imitation of the embossed silver-gilt haloes used in earlier icons. In the 13th century, the relief work was extended to cover the entire background of a great many icons, replacing the silver and gilt revetments that used to adorn Byzantine icons.
In 1191, Cyprus was conquered by Richard the Lion-Heart, king of England. The island was sold to the knights Templar and, in the following year, to Guy de Lusignan, the deposed king of Jerusalem. This was the beginning of Frankish rule in Cyprus. Venetian rule followed, and the island underwent nearly four centuries of occupation by Westerners with direct consequences for the Cypriots. The islanders became the serfs of alien feudal lords and were robbed of their land and property. The Orthodox Church was also deprived of its possessions, lost its many bishoprics, underwent many forms of intensive oppression, and from the mid-13th century onward was subordinated to the Latin Church established in the island by the foreign dynasts. All this had an unfortunate effect on the development of painting and art in general. Cyprus was cut off from the great artistic centres and lived on in comparative isolation. Thus it was not able to follow the development of 13th century Byzantine art. At the same time, Cypriot artists inevitably began to be influenced by the Western forms of art which the Crusaders introduced into Cyprus.
A peculiar style of painting thus came into being. This combined old oriental elements that were latent in the painting of the previous centuries and elements that were characteristic of the new art of the conquerors. The result was the creation of “Crusader” painting, influenced to a certain and varying extent by Western painting. Figures lost their classical style and became more realistic. This resulted in a complete contrast to the slender, delicate figures with the beautiful, gentle faces of late 12th century Byzantine painting. Among the icons of this series, one must single out the fine icon of St. Marina (No. 11) from the church of the Holy Cross at Pedhoulas, the Descent into Hell (No. 12) and the fragment of an epistyle with the scenes of the Washing of the Feet and of Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (No. 18) from the catholicon of the monastery of St. John Lampa- distis at Kalopanayiotis, in which non-classical traits are particularly conspicuous; the two large icons of the Virgin Hodeghetria (No. 13) and Chrisl (No. 14) from the church of the Virgin of Moutoullas, and the icon of St. Nicholas tis Steyis (No. 15), painted on parchment, from the church of the same name near Kakopetria. Western influences are less evident in two icons from the church of the Virgin Chry- saliniotissa in Nicosia: the Apostle Paul (No. 16) and the Virgin (No. 19).
Apart from this trend, there appeared another highly conservative tendency during the 13th century, which led to a revival of the 11th century style of painting. We see a good example of this in the icon of the Prophet Elijah (No. 10) from the catholicon of the monastery of Saint John Lampadistis at Kalopanayiotis. The austere, not to say fierce, aspect of the Prophet and the marked stylization look like an attempt to imitate 11th century frescoes. In contrast, the double-sided icon of the Crucifixion and the Virgin (now destroyed) (No 17) from the church of St. Luke in Nicosia, which is now in ruins, has a much more refined style and is in harmony with the general character of 13th century Byzantine art. At the same time, the work clearly retains Cypriot characteristics, such as the background, which is in relief, and the transparent loin-cloth enveloping Christ, a feature that first appears in the early 12th century in the fresco of the Entombment of Christ at the ruined church of Afentrika at Koutsoventis. Thus during the second half of the 13th century, some kind of contact was resumed between Nicaea — and later on Constantinople — and Cyprus. This was facilitated by the frequent matrimonial alliances between the imperial family of Byzantium and the royal family of Cyprus.
Communication developed further in the course of the 14th century. In this period the influence of Palaeologue art becomes manifest both in monumental and icon-painting. However, Palaeologue art in Cyprus is characterized by a number of special traits, such as the brilliance and translucence of colours, the combination of austerity and gentleness in facial expression and a certain Italian influence, particularly in the 15th century. One should also add the unusual feature of donors’ figures often appearing in the lower part of Cypriot icons at this time. The elongated icons from the church of the Virgin Chrysaliniotissa in Nicosia are a good illustration in point: Christ with angels and donors, dated 1356 (No. 20), St. Eleutherios (No. 21), St. Paraskevi (No. 22) and a half-destroyed icon of which only the lower part, figuring the donors, has survived. Another very fine icon depicting three scenes, the Annunciation, the Nativity and the Crucifixion under arches formed by verses of hymns, was destroyed during the criminal coup d’etat of July 15th 1974. Special mention must be made of the epistyle from the church of the Virgin Theoskepastos at Kalopanayiotis. It is the only one of its kind found in the island, and portays twenty-three scenes from the Gospels and a Deesis, under pointed arches in relief, with the Prophets David and Jeremiah at either end (No. 31). The numerous gold lines, the care for detail and the painstaking execution recall the art of miniatures. Indeed, this work should be seen as miniature painting, since no scene exceeds 20 x 20 cm.
A more conservative and purely Cypriot approach is to be found in the icons of St. Marina (No. 35) from the catholicon of the monastery of St. John Lampa- distis, the icon of the Virgin, a variant of the type of the Kykkos Virgin (No. 27), from the church of Asinou, the icon of the Virgin Eleoussa (No. 33) from the Metropolis of Paphos, the Virgin of Kykkos (Kykkotissa) with scenes from the life of the Virgin on the icon’s border (No. 29), from the church of the Virgin Chrysaliniotissa in Nicosia, the icon of St. Nicholas (No. 34) from the church of the Virgin Chryse- leoussa at Arediou and the half-destroyed icon of the Apostle Peter (No. 32) from the church of Asinou. The remarkable thing about this group of icons is the lack of stylistic unity—the basic differences in the handling of colour and technique in general. Some of these icons, like the Apostle Peter, for instance, are forerunners of the Cypriot School proper as it took shape in the 15th and 16th centuries, under conditions quite similar to those that produced the Cretan School at about the same period.
During the 15th and 16th centuries, the churches of Cyprus were embellished with dated and undated works by only a few known painters, but a great many unknown ones. The widespread practice of icon-painting in Cyprus at that time is due to the extensive use of tall iconostases which could accommodate two or even three rows of icons. Painters perpetuated the Palaeologue tradition, infusing new life dependent on their personal talent and borrowings from Italian art. The 15th and 16th century paintings of the Cypriot School on the whole show a more refined and delicate style than those produced by the Cretan School over that period. The figures are modelled with a greater plasticity; there is a certain gentleness of expression, a softness in the draperies and a more marked Italian influence in the movements and gestures of the figures. They continue to be close to the Palaeologue tradition. Joseph Houris belonged to this school: he is the painter of the Great Deesis (Nos. 37-52) at the catholicon of the monastery of St. Neophytos at Paphos, dated 1544. The 21 icons with the Dodecaorton and other scenes from the same templon belong to the same school. Four of them, the Prayer of Joachim (No. 53), the Prayer of Anne and the Meeting of Joachim and Anne (No. 54), the Washing of the Feet (No. 55) and Christ before Annas and Caiaphas (No. 56) give us an idea of what this style of painting was like. We may also ascribe to this school the two Angels in a wood-carved border (Nos. 57-58), reminiscent of the wood-carved iconostasis of the catholicon of the monastery of St. Neophytos, from whence they come.
We now come to another school of the same period which has closer affinities with the Cretan School. It is represented in this exhibition by the icons of the Entry into Jerusalem (No. 61), from the church of the Virgin Chrysaliniotissa in Nicosia, the icon of the Last Judgement (No. 62), from the church of the Holy Anarghyri near Phoini, but now transferred to the Metropolis of Paphos, and finally a series of icons scattered in various Cypriot churches. Among these one must single out the icons of the Great Deesis and the icons of Christ, the Virgin and John the
Theologian from the church of the Antiphonitis, and the icon of the Deesis from the catholicon of the monastery of Chrysostom, which were looted by the Turkish invaders like the rest of the icons in these two churches. Another representative group includes the icon of the Virgin Hodeghetria (No. 60), dated 1557, from the catholicon of the monastery of the Virgin of Arakas, near Lagoudera, and the icon of St. Paraskevi (No. 63) from the church of St. Theodore at Letymbou. This group, which includes many other examples, is particularly distinguished by the warm, reddish ochre used for the faces; the lighter tones serve for the modelling of the young and beautiful figures.
In the 16th century we find indications of the survival of Palaeologue art, not without some Italian influence, in the Crosses that crown the tops of the iconostases, together with the “Lypitera”. A typical example is the Cross (No. 59) of unknown origin, which is now kept at the Archbishop’s Palace. Several other icons, such as the Virgin Glykophiloussa (No. 64) from the catholicon of the monastery of Avgas- sida, near Famagusta, and the icons by the painter Titus in the first half of the 16th century, are representative of this continuing tradition.
Following a parallel course to the schools of painting we have just mentioned, there existed a number of other schools of a more popular character, almost bordering on folk art, or of a more Western character, reminiscent of the Italian Madonneri. The works of the western-style school are to be found mainly in city churches where Western influences were more marked; it is not improbable that they originated in fact from Latin churches. In contrast, the popular style is to be found in the icons that decorate remote country chapels or village churches.
Byzantine painting in Cyprus received a crucial blow when the island was conquered by the Turks in 1571. Icons dating from the last third of the 16th century can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Icon-painting became restricted to monasteries only, and from the early 17th century onward painters were usually clericals, and more particularly monks. But by this time Cypriot painting had been severed from its roots. The decline of both monumental painting and icon-painting becomes evident. Art gradually degenerated. The arrival of John Cornaros from Crete in the late 18th century dealt the final blow to the old Byzantine tradition of painting in Cyprus.
Three figures partially preserved and traces of a fourth forming part of a multifigured composition are depicted turned to the left. From what remains, they seem to have had their right arm raised, while holding a rolled scroll in their left hand. Their gaze follows the movement of their body and head. Although the icon is painted directly on wood, there is the usual layer of gesso. As often happens from the 11th century on, especially in frescoes imitating icons, the background is painted red.
The bold facial features, the wide-open eyes, the sparse brush-strokes in the hair and beards, as well as the style and manner in which the white highlights are applied on the warm flesh, remind us of similar icons and frescoes of the 11th century and indicate the survival of Egyptian influence in Cyprus until this period.
The Baptist is painted on a single board hollowed out to form a narrow, slightly raised border all around. The left side of the icon has been destroyed, while the lower half has suffered considerable damage. The Baptist is painted against a silver background, from the waist up, turned three-quarters to the left, with his arms raised in supplication. He emanates both austerity and sweetness.
The manner in which the Baptist’s figure is rendered corresponds to that used in the earlier frescoes of the church of Asinou and the church of the Virgin at Tri- komo. There is a striking similarity between the icon and the fresco of the Baptist in the dome of the church at Trikomo. This similarity is not confined only to a general impression, but extends to details such as the shape of the beard and hair, the rendering of the eyebrows and nose, the deep V at the base of the nose, with the wrinkles forming a second V, the shading, etc. These characteristics are common to the frescoes of the church of the Virgin of Asinou and that of the Virgin at Trikomo. The icon of the Baptist comes from the former, the earlier frescoes of which are dated 1105-1106.
The Virgin is represented in the type of the Glykophiloussa, which is familiar to us from the icon of the Vladimir Virgin at the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow. It is painted on thin canvas glued to the panel, which is hollowed out to form a slightly raised border. The icon was damaged extensively, perhaps at a very early date, which is why it was overpainted almost entirely before the 16th century. Only the faces of the Virgin and Christ of the original icon have survived. Still, it seems that the postures of the figures were respected by the artist who repainted it.
The Virgin is depicted half-length, holding Christ in her right arm while touching his knee with the left. Christ emdraces his mother with both arms and brings his face close to hers. There is a lavish use of gold lines on the garments of both figures. The manner in which the two faces are portrayed, the bold, though gentle features, and the soft shading are reminiscent of 12th century frescoes. On the border of the maphorion on the Virgin’s left arm is the name of the donor who probably paid the expenses for the restoration of the icon: Аё ок; той Sovlov тov &(eo)v Kwvaxavxivov (Invocation of the servant of God Constantine).
The icon is painted on gesso on a panel slightly hollowed out to form a raised border. Canvas is also glued to the back of the icon, on which a Cross is painted with the abbreviations: 7(г|сто0)с Л рютЬ)? Yi(dc,) 6>(eo)i~ (Jesus Christ, Son of God) and Л/(ар1ац) Г(еууг|стаста) A'(piarov) B(aaiXea) (Mariam Bore Christ the King).
The Virgin is depicted half-length, turned to the right with her arms raised in supplication. She is wearing a blue-green chiton and the usual magenta maphorion adorned with a gold border from which hang gold tassels. In the gold background of the icon we see the Virgin’s name in red letters: М(х\т)цр Q(zo)v fj ’ЕЛеобаа. At the bottom, there is an ornamental motif of triangles, alternately upright and inverted, filled with a stylized floral design.
The style and technique of the icon are directly related to the frescoes in the bema of the Enkleistra and in particular to the figures of the Virgin of the Annunciation and of the Virgin Orans among the Holy Bishops. The fine facial features are somewhat reminiscent of the Vladimir Virgin. The letters of the inscription are the same as those on the frescoes in the bema and the naos of the Enkleistra, which indicates that it is possibly by the same hand as these frescoes, dated 1183. Originally, the icon was processional, which is why it is also decorated on the back. There are indications for its accommodation on a carrying-pole on the lower half of the icon and in particular at the back.
Like the icon of the Virgin Eleoussa (No. 4), the icon of Christ is painted on a single panel slightly hollowed out to form a raised border all around. Canvas is glued to both sides of the icon, over the usual layer of gesso. Christ is depicted frontally from the waist up, against a gold background on which the name 7(r|cro0)g Л ршто)? and the epithet ‘O
are inscribed in red letters. With the exception of the face, which was painted over in the 15th or 16th century, the icon is preserved in excellent condition.
There is the same decorative motif at the bottom of the icon as in the icon of the Virgin Eleoussa (No. 4). The icon of Christ, like that of the Virgin, was processional: on the reverse side there is a cross with the abbreviations: 7(r|oo0)c A’fpi- ot6)c Yi(o)q 0(to)v (Jesus Christ, Son of God) and Л рюто;) A'(apiv) A’fpiotia- vot?) A'(api ei) (Christ Gives Grace to the Christians).
The icon is painted on a single board, slightly hollowed out to form a raised border. A fine piece of linen is glued to the panel. The Virgin is depicted against a silvery-gold background, from the waist up, in the type of the Hodeghetria. She is holding Christ on her left arm, while the right is raised before her breast. Christ, in a green chiton and a light brown himation with golden rays radiating from little pools of light, as in the icon of Christ from the Enkleistra (No. 5), raises his right hand in blessing, while in the left he holds a scroll resting on his knee. The icon is relatively well preserved, the damage being restricted to the lower half and the border.
The flesh is modelled with dark olive-green underpaint highlighted with red. Broad red spots accentuate the prominent parts of the Virgin’s face. Cooler colours are used on Christ’s face. Here the volumes are emphasized by white highlights applied in broad brush-strokes on the forehead, chin, and the area round the eyes and nose. Foliate designs (no longer visible) were painted on the upper and lower border, and lozenges on the left and right. The icon was processional, and at the lower end there are indications for its accommodation on a carrying-pole. The reverse side is decorated with a foliate Cross, with the usual inscription: 7(tiotoO)c А рттб)? NikH.
Like the icon of the Virgin Arakiotissa (No. 6) from the same church, the icon of Christ is painted on a single board, slightly hollowed out to form a border on which figures of Saints are depicted. The right hand border of the icon was broken off, probably in the 17th century, so that the icon could be fitted into the present iconostasis of the church. The broken border was replaced in 1967, when the icon was restored. A second Christ was added on the reverse side of the icon in the ]9th century, thereby making it double-sided. The original icon, darkened by dirt and overpainting, was placed facing the bema, while the 19th century image was used by the faithful for worship.
Christ is depicted from the waist up, against a gold background. His right hand is raised in blessing in front of his chest, while his left is holding a closed Gospel. His face is masterfully done with broad shading and delicate craftsmanship in the beard and hair. The abundant use of red colour gives a lively expression to the face.
On the left border, against a silver background, John Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian are portrayed, as shown by the half-destroyed inscriptions and the iconography, and on the lower border two of the three Saints originally depicted are still preserved: St. Theodore the Stratelates and St. George, as indicated by the inscriptions of their names. The donor’s inscription on the lower border reads: Adrjoiq too Souaov too 0(eo)u Гераа1р(оь) hpopova/ov (Invocation of the servant of God Gerasimos, hieromonachos).
The icon is painted on a single board, which is hollowed out to form a slightly raised border all around. A thin canvas is glued to the board and extends over the border. The icon has suffered much damage. The Virgin is laid out on a couch, of which only the richly embroidered pillow has been preserved. Christ is depicted standing, to the right of the perpendicular axis, holding the Virgin’s soul (destroyed) in the same manner as in the fresco of the church of Arakas, though here he is in a red mandorla. The haloes of both the Virgin and Christ bear a gilded floral ornamentation in relief. To the right and left, two groups of Apostles and two holy bishops crowd before many-storeyed buildings.
The modelling of the faces with warm ochre and diffuse red, touched with profuse yellowish highlights, indicate the early 13th century. The drapery is characteristic of the late 12th century and reminiscent of the frescoes of the Enkleistra of St. Neophytos. Finally, the figures of the Apostles and bishops are reminiscent of the Saints in the bema and the naos of the Enkleistra and of the bishops in the apse of the catholicon of the monastery of Arakas. They are forerunners of the style of the hierarchs in the apse of the church of the Virgin of Moutoullas.
The icon shows Christ with his hands bound with a rope before the Cross, which is being made firm in the ground. The content of the scene is given by the inscription ‘E/.Ko/isvioq) [ё]7г/ от(ах>)роС>. This is a rare theme for a portable icon, though it appears in monumental painting from the 11th century onwards.
The Cross, with the usual inscription: rO p[aa]i?£vq T(fjq) So&q (The King of Glory), rises against a silver background in the centre of the icon, in front of a low wall and on rocky ground. A servant i s making the Cross firm in the ground. Two angels are flying above the arms of the cross with grief evident in their faces and gestures. Christ is depicted on the left, his hands bound before him with a rope that is held by a servant with his right han d, while carrying a staff in his left. Christ is wearing a red chiton and a crown of thorns on his head; the cross of his halo is jewelled.
Seven soldiers crowd behind Christ. They wear cone-shaped helmets and chain-mail and have long mustachios. The figures are reminiscent of the soldiers in the frescoes of Christ before Pilate in the Enkleistra of St. Neophytos. On the right, in addition to the servant setting up the Cross, we see a Jew, St. John and the Virgin.
For iconographical and stylistic reasons the icon may be dated around the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century. In particular, the simple straight lines of the draperies, and the modelling of the faces with broad red spots on the cheeks are characteristic features of this period. The decorated halo of Christ reminds us of analogous haloes of the Pantocrator in the domes of the churches of the Virgin at Trikomo, the Holy Apostles at Pera Chorio in Cyprus, of the Evan- ghelistria at Geraki and St. lerotheos near Megara.
The icon is painted on two boards joined together at the back with two strips. The boards are slightly hollowed out to form a raised border all around. In spite of the damage on the lower half and background, the icon is relatively well preserved. The Prophet is depicted from the waist up against a red background, most of which has been destroyed. His face is turned towards the upper left corner where the crow and bread were probably represented. The Prophet is wearing a light brown chiton with many folds and an olive green sheepskin. His right hand is raised in front of his breast, while in his left he is holding a scroll with the inscription: Z// K(upio)c /c(ai) t fj r\ if/v/f] (As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth) (IV Kings, 2, 2.)
The rendering of the hair and beard is similar to that of the Prophets in the dome of the catholicon of the monastery of the Lampadistis, as is also the careless drapery of the chiton and sheepskin.
St. Marina is depicted frontally, half-length, on a single wooden panel slightly hollowed out to form a wide, raised border on which are painted scenes of her martyrdom. The Saint is represented against a gold background. Her head is surrounded by a halo with a decoration of rinceaux, palmettes and rosettes in relief. She is completely covered by a red maphorion with a gold border in relief around the face decorated with white pearls; her green chiton with long, embroidered sleeves is barely visible. The cross of martyrdom is in her right hand, while her left is held in front of her breast in the customary gesture of martyrs.
The face is almost round as in the portraits of sainted women in the frescoes of the church of the Virgin of Moutoullas, in those of Gravina and in the “Crusader” icons of Mount Sinai. The eyebrows, eyes, nose and mouth are rendered in the same way as in the previous examples. The eyelids and nose are accentuated by a red line as in the frescoes of the Enkleistra of St. Neophytos and of the church of St. Marina at Pyrgos, east of Yaloussa. This icon shows an even greater similarity with the fresco in the church of the Virgin of Moutoullas and the icon of Mount Sinai where St. Marina is depicted with St. Catherine.
The scene is painted directly on a thick wooden panel hollowed out to form a narrow raised border; no canvas is used. In the centre, turned to the left, Christ is shown in a mandorla, pulling Adam out of a sarcophagus with his right hand, while holding the Cross in his left; the suppedaneum of the Cross is seen in a diagonal position and follows the diagonal axis starting from the lower left-hand corner. Eve, slightly bending, is emerging from another sarcophagus on the right, so that an isosceles triangle is formed with Adam on the left and Christ in the centre.
The proportions of the figures are heavy, the bodies relatively short, the heads large as in the frescoes of the church of the Virgin of Moutoullas and the “Crusader” icons of Mount Sinai. The rendering of the eyes also relates this icon to these frescoes and the “Crusader” icons.
The figure of the Virgin in the type of the Hodeghetria is painted on two wooden panels joined at the back by two strips and slightly hollowed out to form a narrow raised border all around. A piece of light canvas is glued to the panels. The Virgin is depicted half-length, turned to the right, holding Christ on her left arm while her right hand is raised in prayer. She wears a dark blue long-sleeved chiton and a purple maphorion with a gold border ornamented with lozenges and white pearls, as in several “Crusader” icons of Mount Sinai.
Other characteristics shared by this work and the “Grusader” icons are the shape of the eyes, with oval pupils, and the ears and mouth. Christ is wearing a short light brown chiton which leaves his legs uncovered. There are bands on his chest and neck like those in the depictions of Christ in the diptych of the Virgin Kykkotissa and St. Procopius on Mount Sinai, and on the icon of the Virgin De- xiokratoussa on Sinai, also a “Crusader” icon. The blue himation leaves the breast completely uncovered, as in the “Crusader” icon of the Virgin of Mount Sinai, which can be assigned to the 13th century. The loose folds and the light red spots on the cheeks, and the decoration in relief of the haloes are also indicative of the 13th century.
What distinguishes this icon of Christ is its stylization and linearity. These two characteristics relate it to the frescoes in the church of the Virgin of Moutoullas, and the “Crusader” icons of SS. Sergius and Bacchus and of St. Sergius, as well as to the diptych of the Virgin and St. Procopius on Mount Sinai. It especially resembles the icon of SS. Sergius and Bacchus in the stylization of the neck muscles and the rendering of the eyes. Another detail also found in the “Crusader” icons is the black band with the white dots at the neck of the chiton. But it is superior to them in its spirituality and expression.
The Saint is depicted standing in the centre, under a trilobe arch, as in other icons and frescoes of Cyprus and Apulia in the 13th century, on a lower level than the wide borders on the right and left and the narrower ones (top and bottom). The halo, the crosses on the omophorion, the epimanika, the encheirion, the cover of the closed book in the Saint’s left hand have a decoration in relief, as has the arch under which he stands.
A special characteristic of this icon is the use of parchment instead of canvas. Parchment was also used in another Cypriot icon, that of the Virgin at the church of St. Cassianos in Nicosia; these icons have a stylistic affinity. The marked stylization, the rendering of the hair and beard, the large almond-shaped eyes, the wrinkles on the forehead and the combination of green shadow with warm-coloured flesh relate this icon to the one of St. Nicholas on Mount Sinai and with the portrait of the Saint in the frescoes of the apse of the church of the Virgin at Moutoullas.
The Apostle is depicted on a wooden panel hollowed out to form a narrow, slightly raised border all around. No canvas is used. The Saint’s halo and the background of the icon bear a decoration in relief, originally gilded. The Saint is represented half-length, slightly turned to the left. He has a long narrow face, quite stylized, which resembles the depiction of the Saint in the fresco in the church of the Virgin of Moutoullas. This similarity can also be seen in the stylized beard, the rigid folds of the Saint’s salmon-pink himation and in the rendering of his right hand, which emerges from the himation in a gesture of blessing. In his left hand, now destroyed, the Saint held a rolled scroll, part of which is still preserved.
This was a processional icon. There are raised borders at the top and bottom, on both sides. The Virgin is almost entirely destroyed. But the Crucifixion is preserved in fairly good condition. It is painted on a light piece of canvas glued to the wood.
The Cross on which Christ is being crucified is set against a background of foliate ornamentation in relief, similar to some extent to that of the “Crusader” icons of Mount Sinai. Christ’s body follows an accentuated curve while his arms are slack. In the lower part there is a building characterized by a gallery with an arcade and red roof. On either side, in front of rocky peaks topped with structures (a basilica on the left and a domed building on the right) are depicted those who witnessed the Crucifixion. On the left stands the Virgin, a tall thin figure with an expression of restrained grief and nobility, behind her two women painted almost in grisaille, on the right St. John and behind him the damaged figure of the Centurion, no longer visible. The same expression of pain and sadness is evident in John’s face, stance and gestures. Above the arms of the Cross two Angels are lamenting.
What distinguishes this icon of the Crucifixion is the graceful elegance of the figures, the emotional restraint, which is yet combined with psychological intensity, and the subdued, translucent colours. The way in which the facial features are rendered and the play of light and shadow recall the related two-sided icon in the Byzantine Museum in Athens, which is, however, in a more provincial style. On the other hand, Christ’s transparent loin-cloth, characteristic of Cypriot Byzantine art, is reminiscent of the fresco of Christ’s Entombment in the ruined chapel of Afentrika at Koutsoventis, dating from the first half of the 12th century. As regards artistic quality, there is no doubt that the icon of the Crucifixion is one of the most important surviving specimens of the early Palaeologue Renaissance.
Catholicon of the Monastery of St. John Lampadistis, Kalopanayiotis
The wooden panel is hollowed out to form a slightly raised border all around and two pointed arches supported in the middle by a column in relief. In the triangles formed between the arches and the upper border of the icon, there are three wings at the edges and in the centre a grey-black hexapterygon against a brick-red background. The upper part of the two scenes under the arches is destroyed.
On the left is a representation of the Washing of the Feet. In the yellowish background formed by the walls of a building, Christ, standing upright, girded with the lent ion, is washing Peter’s feet; with the usual gesture, Peter asks Christ to wash “not only his feet but also his hands and his head.” (John 13, 9). Behind Peter, two other disciples are loosening their sandals, while two more are discernible behind them. Another disciple, in the foreground, is removing the sandal from his right foot.
Under the right arch, there is a representation of the Prayer at Gethsemane. Christ is seen kneeling in prayer on a rock. On the lower left, standing upright, he is reproaching the disciples for falling asleep. The iconography here agrees in general lines with Byzantine tradition. It is interesting to note fhe posture of the disciple bent over in sleep, so that only the back of his head and shoulder is visible. This detail is to be found in other pictorial examples of this scene from the 12th century onwards.
What distinguishes this icon is its stylistic rendering, particularly its non- classical character. The bodies are rendered with disregard for the right proportions, the heads are large and the eyes, wide-open with protruding pupils, have an intense look. All these features are characteristic of the “Crusader” icons of Mount Sinai and works influenced by 13th century Western art.
In the upper part of the icon, Christ is depicted enthroned (though no throne is discernible) with his feet resting on a cushion. His right hand is raised in blessing while his left hand holds a closed Gospel propped up on his knee. In the lower half of the icon we see the donors, the couple Euphemia and Manuel Xeros, in an attitude of supplication, and further down, depicted frontally on a larger scale, their daughter Maria, her hands crossed against her breast. It is worth noting the contrast between the mourning attire of the parents and the splendid, richly embroidered clothes of their dead daughter, in whose memory the icon was commissioned. The inscriptions above the donors read as follows: Aerjoig rfj; Sov- Л//С тov 0(eo)v Eixprjpiat; (Invocation of the servant of God Euphemia) and Ae.rj- aig tov Sov/.ov той &(eo)v A/av[oufiX] ‘AvayviboTt] tov Erjpov (Invocation of the servant of God Manuel Anagnostes Xeros). Between the parents and above the head of their daughter Maria, there is the following commemorative inscription:
‘ЕкощцОг) f] Sovfy tov &(eo)v Mapia napOevog Ovyartjp Kvpov Mavovi]/. ‘Avayvibmrj tov Erjpov ev sTtj $ojqS, prjvi Avyouarqj fjpipa a (Died the servant of God Maria the virgin daughter of Kyr Manuel Anagnostes Xeros, in the year 6864 (1356), month of August, day 1).
The most characteristic quality of this icon is the brilliance and harmony of the colours and the softness of the draperies, gently clinging to the contours of the bodies, even though in the case of Christ’s figure, the draperies finally conform to a stylized multi-folded design. Another distinctive feature is the contrast between the realistic portraits of the donors, and the traditional, idealized rendering of Christ and the Angels.
The Saint is depicted frontally against a gold background; his body is extremely elongated. He is dressed in bishop’s robes, a blue sticharion, a phelonion in rose- red, the white omophorion with black crosses and the epigonation. With his right hand he blesses while in his veiled left hand he holds a closed Gospel book. In the lower part of the icon, three kneeling donors are shown frontally, with their hands crossed against their breasts, like the figure of Maria in the preceding icon. This posture probably means that the donors had died and the icon was commissioned to honour their memory. As a rule, the traditional representation of donors was with hands raised in prayer. The inscription mentioned by D. Talbot Rice ‘Ekoi- fitjOri о Sot’i/.oq too [0eoO] Exttpav[oq] (The servant of God, Stephanos fell asleep [in the Lord) has almost disappeared.
The modelling of the face and the soft and organic draperies in the Saint’s garments are reminiscent of the icon of Christ (No. 20). But the colours, though warm in tone, lack the brilliance and translucence of those in Christ’s icon.
St. Paraskevi is shown frontally, an inordinately tall and slender figure. Against her breast she holds with both hands a medallion showing a “Christ of Pity”. She wears a dark blue chiton and a dark red maphorion. At the bottom is a donor, hands raised in prayer. Though done in much the same manner, the St. Paraskevi icon differs from the two icons just described in quite a number of ways. The colours are darker, less brilliant. The dark green underpaint dominates the face and the naked parts and there are only a few highlighted surfaces. The haloes are decorated with incised designs. St. Paraskevi’s halo, especially, is very similar to haloes in Italian works of the Trecento and Quattrocento. However, the draperies are rather similar to those of the St. Eleutherios icon.
This representation of the Saint, very common in Cyprus, was almost unknown to the rest of the Byzantine world. In fact, the St. Paraskevi icons in Cyprus do not represent the Martyr herself, but rather personify Good Friday (Megali Paraskevi in Greek). The personification derived from the Good Friday custom of worshipping the icon of the “Christ of Pity” along with the icon of the Lamenting Virgin, which often appeared together in a diptych.
The icon is painted on canvas glued to a panel which has been slightly hollowed out to form a narrow raised border all around. Against a gold background, the Apostle is depicted from the waist up turned three-quarters to the right. He wears a dark blue chiton with dark folds and an orange red himation with darker folds covering the shoulders, but leaving the chest uncovered. He holds a rolled scroll with both hands.
The Saint’s large head, strong neck and broad shoulders, together with the wide luminous surfaces and few highlights relate the icon to the Macedonian School.
The icon of St. John the Baptist has the same dimensions as that of the Apostle Peter (No. 24). The depiction of the figure turned three-quarters to the left, hands raised in prayer, indicates that it was part of a Great Deesis, along with the icons of the Archangel Michael (No. 23) and the Apostle Peter (No. 24). John, depicted half-length, wears a grey sheepskin with white shadings and an olive-green himation. His physique is the same as the Apostle Peter’s. Only the fine sinewless arms denote the desert hermit. Unfortunately, the face suffered damage at the hands of an incompetent restorer 40 years ago, so that the softer tones have disappeared and only the brown-black shading remains.
The icon is painted on both sides. On the front, the wooden panel is slightly hollowed out to form a narrow raised border all around. On the back, the border is formed by the addition of two strips at the top and bottom, and two narrower strips on either side.
On the front side, against a gold background, the Virgin (represented half- length in the Hodeghetria type) appears in her traditional purple maphorion, edged with a gold border. Christ gazes at the sad face of his Mother; he wears a short red chiton decorated only with the simple gold U-shaped bands, often encountered in “Crusader” icons and in icon No. 13. The haloes are in relief and that of Christ has a red cross.
The back side of the panel represents the Crucifixion. In the middle is Christ on the Cross. His body follows a slight curve; the arms are stretched out. He wears the customary transparent loin-cloth. On the left stands the Virgin, hands crossed against her breast; she is accompanied by three women. On the right, St. John, a rather heavy figure, brings his right hand to his face, while in his left hand he holds a closed book. Behind John is the Centurion holding a lance and a triangular shield decorated with a half-moon. The haloes are decorated with foliate designs in relief. Two angels (almost destroyed) fly above the Cross.
Both sides of the panel seem to have been painted in the same period. The figures, especially in the Crucifixion, are remarkable for their physical presence, as well as their gracefulness and the harmony of the colours. In general, the modelling is achieved by the underpaint, simple burnt sienna in the case of the Virgin panel. In the Crucifixion, volume is rendered by the light shading and linear highlights. The upward curve of the lips, as well as other characteristics, may help to assign the icon to the late 14th century.
The icon is painted on canvas glued to a panel, slightly hollowed out to form a narrow border. The work has been badly damaged; only the faces of the Virgin and Christ have been preserved in a good condition. The background and the haloes are covered with plaster relief decoration which spreads to the border. This decoration was originally gilded. This was obviously an attempt to imitate icons with silver revetments.
The Virgin wears a dark blue chiton and a purple maphorion. This icon is a variant of the Kykkotissa type because although the Virgin is holding Christ in the same position as in the Kykkotissa type, she is not wearing the special decorative veil over her maphorion. This makes it one of the rarest icons of this type. Equally unusual are the chiton, and especially the himation worn by Christ, the modelling and shading of the faces, and the position and form of the highlights on the Virgin’s face.
The icon is painted on two uneven boards. Narrow edged strips of wood form a border. Christ is depicted clad in a purple chiton with an orange clavus and a dark blue himation. In the upper corners, two angels are depicted in adoration. The broad shoulders, strong neck, relatively large head, the rendering of the eye-brows and nose, the full lips, the broad lighted surfaces and the folds of Christ’s himation place this icon in the 15th century.
The icon is painted in the central section of a panel, hollowed out to form a wide border on which are depicted scenes from the life of the Virgin. The Virgin is represented in the type of the Kykkotissa, which was brought to Cyprus from Constantinople at the end of the 11th century and which, according to tradition, is one of the three icons painted by St. Luke. This iconographic type shows the Virgin holding Christ on her right arm, in a rather peculiar position. Christ is wearing a chiton held at the waist by a girdle; the Virgin is wearing an embroidered veil which falls obliquely over her maphorion.
The background is gold, and has suffered great damage. The same is true of the entire icon, especially the lower and upper sections. The scenes depicted on the lower section of the border are so damaged that they are unidentifiable. The first two scenes on the upper border are also quite badly damaged.
The scenes that have been preserved, or that can be identified, are: above. The Annunciation, Joachim’s Offerings Rejected, The Examination of the Records of the twelve Tribes. On the right side of the border: Joachim’s Prayer, Anne’s Prayer,
The faces are modelled in reddish ochre. The shape of the Virgin’s face, the small mouth, and the generous use of gold lines are characteristic features of the icon. The haloes are decorated with a severe geometric design of intersecting circles in relief. The relatively few luminous surfaces and the limited use of highlights suggest a 15th century date for this icon.
This was a processional icon. The upper part of the carrying-pole has been preserved. It is painted on three thick boards held together by two strips. The panels are hollowed out to form a raised border. Another strip of wood was added in fashioning the upper part of the border. The canvas glued to the wood extends over the entire border.
On the front side, the Virgin is depicted in the Kykkotissa type, against a gold background. Yet she is called the Athanasiotissa Virgin. The icon is in a very bad state of preservation. Only the angels in the upper corners are preserved in good condition. The haloes are made of superimposed wood. They are decorated with foliate reliefs, interspersed, in the case of the Virgin, with medallions bearing the symbols of the Evangelists. A rinceaux decoration, painted mostly in green, appears on the border.
On the back side, there is the Descent from the Cross; though quite badly damaged in parts, it is otherwise preserved in a satisfactory condition and provides one of the most interesting pictorial examples of this scene in icon-painting. The Cross is erected on a rocky hill-top, in front of some buildings; the upper part of the background consists of a yellowish-green sky with golden stars. Joseph, standing on a ladder, is holding Christ’s body (the nails have been removed from the hands), while the Virgin, standing on a low stool, is tenderly embracing her son. One of the two women accompanying the Virgin is kissing Christ’s right hand while John is kissing his left. Below, Nicodemus, in the customary posture, is trying to remove the nails from Christ’s feet and to free the body from the Cross. To the left is a basket containing the nails. All the figures, with the exception of Nicodemus, have shining gold haloes. Above the arms of the Cross, four small angels mourn the death of Christ.
The icon is reminiscent of a related icon in the Monastery of Prodromos at Serres and a fresco of the same scene at Mileseva in Yugoslavia. In particular, the draperies and the rendering of the figures point to a dating in the 14th-15th century.
This epistyle is unique, at least in Cyprus. It consists of a large panel reinforced at the back by Z-shaped strips. The epistyle was hung in position by four iron hooks in the upper section. Its origin is unknown; the church where it is now housed is of more recent date and the iconostasis is a new and clumsy structure.
The panel is hollowed out to form 23 pointed arches, supported by columns in relief, and arranged in two superimposed registers. At the extremities of the lower register, there are two half-arches. On the extreme right, the badly damaged figure of the Prophet Jeremiah is depicted, like David, holding a scroll with an inscription that has been almost totally destroyed. In the triangular spaces formed between the arches, hexapteryga alternate with rosettes against a gold background.
The iconography and style of the scenes depicted on the epistyle clearly belong to the Palaeologue period. There is only one point where this epistyle differs considerably in style from the known Palaeologue works — in the lavish use of gold lines on the garments, and on the trees (especially the bushes), flowers and architecture. Some rare or unusual iconographic details and buildings with a correct rendering of perspective reveal a certain Western influence.
Only the central part of the icon is preserved. The Apostle is depicted from the waist up, against a gold background, turned three-quarters to the right. He wears a dark blue chiton and a light brown himation with broad luminous areas. The Saint’s halo has an incised decoration. Peter extends his right hand in blessing. The characteristic features of this icon are the bright colours and the white highlights, densely gathered in parallel lines to produce a sense of volume. The beard and hair are done with sparse white and brown brush-strokes over the dark underpaint. The linear approach in this work is found also in a number of 15th century icons.
The narrow raised border of the icon is made of narrow strips of wood nailed to the panel. The fine canvas on which the “ground” has been applied extends to the border; the icon’s gold background also extends to the border. The Virgin is depicted in the Eleoussa type, with the only difference that here she is shown holding Christ on her left arm. The haloes have an incised decoration consisting of a double line with a row of small red and black circles and a stylized foliated design. Despite the damage in the lower section, the work is in good enough condition to enable us to assign it to the 15th century.
The Saint is depicted against a richly decorated background with relief plaster- work of rinceaux and rosettes extending to the halo and the raised border. The crosses on the omophorion and the decoration of the epimanika and of the closed book which the Saint holds in his left hand are also in relief. Above his shoulders there are two medallions whose contents have been damaged beyond recognition. The name of the Saint is written on two vertical bands in the upper corners of the icon, while lower down, on horizontal bands, the inscription ‘O ev М(ь)рок; may be read. The face is rendered in a very stylized and linear manner. However, the bright tones, the large expressive eyes, and the great symmetry of the representation give a very pleasing impression. Both the iconography and the gilt background in relief conform to Byzantine tradition.
The icon is painted on a thick, slightly warped panel which has been hollowed out to form a narrow raised border. Instead of a large one-piece canvas, small pieces of tissue were applied to the icon and the border. The “ground” treatment extends to the border.
The Saint is depicted half-length, in a frontal position, against a gold background; the halo is decorated with a plaster relief, once studded with seven cabo- chons, now destroyed. The Saint wears a dark blue chiton and a red maphorion with dark lines. Her hands are raised in front of her breast. The right hand has been destroyed and the martyr’s cross, which she was holding, is no longer visible. The heavily damaged border of the icon has scenes from the Saint’s life and martyrdom. The face is modelled with the brown shade of the underpaint, becoming lighter with the application of red paint and highlights which affect only the brow, the areas beneath the eyes, around the mouth and the neck. The expression of the face is unusually severe.
The icon is painted on a wood panel; narrow edged strips of wood nailed to the panel form a slightly raised border. In the upper section of the icon, the Virgin is depicted half-length, in the Hodeghetria type, against a gold background. On her left arm she holds Christ; her right hand is raised in front of her breast. She wears a dark blue chiton and a purple maphorion.
The lower section of the icon is taken up by a three-aisled basilica with a tall bell-tower and gothic windows. At the centre of the southern side, the Virgin Ele- oussa is depicted in a niche. Two standing angels hold the basilica protectively at either end. In front of the church, two kneeling donors raise their hands in a gesture of prayer. Below the niche that frames the Virgin Eleoussa and between the two donors, there is the following inscription: ActjaiQ zov SovXov той 6>(eo)v Bava /c(cti) zfjQ m/itjov avrov. ‘Ацг/v: ДФК0 A”(pu7To)u (Invocation of the servant of God Vavas and of his wife, Amen; year of Christ, 1529).
The faces and the nude parts of the figures are modelled with the dark underpaint over which are spread broad lighted surfaces, touched at various points by profuse highlights made by radiating brush-strokes.
One of the most important 16th century compositions on the theme of the Great Deesis is to be found on the iconostasis of the catholicon at the monastery of St. Neophytos. It originally comprised 17 icons, of which 16 have survived. Seven icons, in the centre of the iconostasis separating the bema from the nave, are larger than the other nine on the lateral sections of the iconostasis. Their uniform style and technique show that they are the work of the same painter.
The icons consist of one or two panels held together at the back with two strips. The wood is not covered with canvas, except for a narrow strip glued to the point where the two boards are joined. The painter of this group of icons has filled in the background with gold, and then incised the outlines of the picture over it before starting to paint. This is why he often painted over the gold background; the result was that the colours sometimes flaked away at the edges. The painter faithfully follows Byzantine tradition. But he is not impervious to the Italian art of his period. The postures and movements of his figures, as well as their expression, in some cases clearly show an Italian influence.
None of the icons is signed or dated. At the back of four icons, however, there is the signature ‘hoor/tp Xovpic, (Joseph Houris) and a date. The back of the icon of Christ is inscribed in the same hand, but with red lettering, as follows: xrj £ Ло- yovciTOv pippd A>(icttoO) (August 7th, year of Christ 1544). For reasons which I have put forward elsewhere, I believe the artist who painted the Great Deesis in 1544 is Joseph Houris.
The Baptist is depicted half-length, turned to the left with hands raised in supplication. He is wearing a dark blue sheepskin and an olive-green himation with dark, stiff folds. Though the stylistic rendering, especially of the garments, follows the post-Byzantine tradition, the expression on the Baptist’s face shows a Western influence.
The Archangel Michael, represented half-length, is turned to the right. He is wearing a light blue chiton with black folds and a green himation held together across the chest. His wings are red.
Catholicon of the Monastery of St. Neophytos, Paphos
The Archangel Gabriel is shown half-length, turned to the left. He is wearing a yellow chiton with a dark blue band across the shoulders and neck, and a red himation that leaves the left half of his body uncovered. In his left hand he holds a sceptre and in his right a pen and an open scroll with the inscription: ‘OtpOakpoi A’fupioju ini diKaiovq Kai wxa aurov eig Scr/aiv avrc&v npoaomov dr. A’fupiojo eni noiovvraQ кака/
The Apostle is depicted from the waist up, turned to the right. He is wearing a dark blue chiton and an orange-coloured himation with reddish folds. His right hand is raised in blessing against his breast, and his left hand holds a fan-shaped scroll with the inscription: ‘ASe/.cpoi olSe K(i>pio)q evaefieTg ёк тнраацоь pvcaOai аб/коиддё, eiq r/fiepav Kpiaeax; KO/.a£opr.vovq Ttjpeiv.
St. Mark is depicted half-length, turned to the left. He is wearing a light red chiton and a dark green himation with light green highlights; the latter covers his shoulders, but leaves his chest uncovered. He is glancing at a book which he holds open in both hands. Here again, the open page conveys the impression of a text without actual writing.
St. Thomas is shown from the waist up, turned to the right. He is young and beardless. He is wearing a green chiton and a magenta himation, with lighter-coloured highlights. The himation covers his left shoulder and arm and is draped around his waist, leaving the chest, the right shoulder and the right hand uncovered. He holds a rolled scroll in both hands.
The Apostle is depicted from the waist up, his head turned left, as opposed to his body which is turned right. He is shown as a young man with profuse hair and a short brown beard. He is wearing a green chiton which can be seen through the narrow opening of the red himation. He holds a rolled scroll in both hands.
St. Bartholomew is depicted from the waist up, turned to the right. He is shown as a young man with profuse dark brown hair and a short beard. He is wearing a dark red chiton with light-coloured highlights and black folds, and a green himation covering both shoulders, but leaving uncovered his chest and his right hand, raised in blessing. His left hand holds a rolled scroll.
The icon is slightly damaged around the edges, but the figure of the Evangelist in the centre is in good condition. St. Luke is depicted half-length, turned to the right. He is shown young with abundant brown hair and a very short beard. He is wearing a dark blue chiton with black folds, and a magenta himation that covers the shoulders and the left arm, but leaves uncovered the chest and the right hand, raised in a questioning gesture. His left hand holds a closed book.
On the iconostasis of the catholicon of the Monastery of St. Neophytos, below the Great Deesis (Nos. 37-52), 21 small icons depicting the Dodecaorton and further scenes from the Christological cycle and the Virgin’s childhood are also to be seen. They are strongly influenced by 14th century Palaeologue art, especially miniature work, but some traces of Western style are also present. As regards style and iconography, they are closely related to Cretan painting of the 16th century, like the Great Deesis. Four of these icons are included in the exhibition.
53. ST. JOACHIM’S PRAYER (“Dodecaorton Series”). 16th century
42.5 x 33.5 cm
Catholicon of the Monastery of St. Neophytos, Paphos
Joachim is shown seated in a rocky landscape, against a gold background. In front of him, two shepherds stand leaning on their staffs and converse with each other. Joachim supports his head with his left hand, and turns his gaze to the hovering Angel revealing God’s will to him from the top of a rocky peak on the right.
This icon combines two scenes which are customarily handled separately; Anne’s Prayer on the left, and the Meeting of Joachim and Anne on the right. The upper and lower right sections of the icon have been destroyed. Both scenes unfold against a background of buildings rising out of the gold ground of the icon.
On the left, Anne is shown in her garden; she appears to be advancing to the right, but her head is turned towards a nest in a tree standing on the left. Her hands are in a position of prayer. She wears a dark blue chiton and a red maphorion. Above the building in the background there is the inscription: ‘H “Avva проаЕохоцсщ tv тф amfjg napadiocp (Anne praying in her garden). On the right Joachim and Anne are depicted embracing in front of a building rendered in perspective. High above, there is the inscription ‘О ’Ааласгцдд той ‘коакац [icai tfj<; vAvvr]i;] (Joachim and Anne embracing).
The scene unfolds before a tall building with two “towers” at either end, connected by a red drapery. Christ, on the left, is wiping Peter’s feet, while the Apostle, with the customary gesture, is asking Christ to wash his hands and head as well. The other disciples are divided into two groups of five. The first group is in the back; four of them stand immediately behind the bench on which Peter is seated, and the fifth sits behind Peter himself and unfastens his sandal strap. The second group is placed on a lower level, in front of the bench: three of the disciples, in the foreground, are unfastening their sandals, while the other two are shown behind them.
The icon is inscribed KpijvdfiEvog тф “Avva каi Ka’iaipa о А ршто)? (Jesus Christ judged by Annas and Caiaphas). In front of a U-shaped building projecting in perspective against a gold background, the two High Priests are seated on a semicircular throne, passing judgement on Christ, who stands before them with his hands bound and his head turned to the soldier who has just struck him. Behind a table, a clerk is keeping the records of the trial; a multitude of scribes and Pharisees jostle in the background. The artist has chosen the moment when Annas rends his clothes upon hearing what he believes to be Christ’s blasphemy. The technique and style displayed in this icon conform to the trends of the first half of the 16th century and are related to the art that developed simultaneously in Crete and Cyprus, under common cultural and other conditions, as are the rest of the icons in this series.
The Angel is shown in a wood-carved border consisting of two columns supporting a trilobe arch. The border is part of the painted panel. The Angel is depicted standing, turned to the right, his hands raised in prayer. His shoes are studded with precious stones. The background is reddish-brown below and gold above. The Angel is wearing a green chiton with dark green folds and pale green highlights. Over the chiton he wears a jewelled loros which seems to be a continuation of a similar band running along the hem of the chiton; it is brought up across the shoulders, coiled around the waist and allowed to fall over the right arm. The Angel’s wings are grey-blue, gradually fading away into white on the upper part. Stylistically it is reminiscent of the icons in the Great Deesis and the “Dodecaorton Series” on the iconostasis at the catholicon of the monastery of St. Neophytos. The similarity of the wood-carved border to the iconostasis confirms beyond doubt their connection.
This Angel is similar to the preceding one (No. 57). The wood-carved border is the same, so is the style and technique, and the figure and posture, the only difference being that this Angel is turned to the left and his wings are in tones of brown and grey. The difference in the height of this icon is due to the fact that it is more damaged than the previous one. Both these Angels were probably placed at the top of the central section of the iconostasis, on either side of the Crucifixion and the “lypitera”, and they belong to the same period as the icons of the Great Deesis and the “Dodecaorton Series”.
This cross comes from a church in the province of Famagusta. Its size and wood-carved frame indicate that it was part of an iconostasis. Christ is shown on the Cross against a gold background; his arms are stretched out and his body slightly flexed. The arms of the Cross broaden at the ends in a Gothic quatrefoil shape, familiar to us from Cypriot frescoes of the 15th and 16th centuries. The four quatrefoil extremities are decorated with the symbols of the Evangelists, as was the custom for iconostasis crosses in Cyprus in the 16th century; another specimen is the Cross of the church of the Holy Cross at the village of Karpassia in the province of Cyrenia. The face of Christ and the Angel on the left (Matthew’s symbol) reflect the Palaeologue tradition, whereas Christ’s body is more stylized, following the general trend of 16th century painting.
The icon consists of a wooden panel with a narrow border added to it; the canvas covered with the “ground” is stretched right over the border. The Virgin is depicted standing against a background that is gold above and green below. He is wearing a dark blue chiton and a light brown himation with gold lines stemming from broad gold centres of light. The naked parts of the bodies are modelled with the dark underpaint, which is used as shading, in combination with a warm reddish ochre and white highlights for the projecting parts of the face and hands. There is a certain contrast between the careful execution of most of the icon and the rather artless and rigid rendering of the chiton fringe.
The icon is painted on canvas glued to two wooden boards that are secured by two strips at the back. It is in a good state of preservation. Only the lower part, which bore the dedicatory inscription, has been damaged, as a result of which the inscription is no longer legible. The scene depicted in the icon belongs to the icono- graphic type constantly used by the Cretan School. It bears a close resemblance to a series of frescoes and icons by the painter Theophanes. There is an even more striking resemblance to an icon in the Spilia parish of Canea. The details in both icons are the same. However, as opposed to the icons and frescoes of the Cretan School, the movement in this icon is from right to left. Another difference is the portrayal of the donors at the bottom of the icon: three men on the left and a woman on the right.
The icon is painted directly on wood. A narrow border has been added, which forms an extension of the gold ground. At the centre of the upper section, against a gold background, Christ is shown enthroned within a circular glory; he is surrounded, as usual, by Angels, the Virgin and St. John the Baptist in attitudes of prayer, and the Apostles seated upon thrones. Further to the right, St. Peter leads the Righteous to Paradise, while at the extreme right, land and sea disgorge the dead. The two bottom registers illustrate the sinners’ torments in Hell.
The colours are brilliant and harmoniously blended. The style and technique belong to the Cretan School, though they were also developed in Cyprus during the 15th and 16th centuries. For this reason the icon is not necessarily a Cretan importation. Unfortunately, nothing is known of the bishop Maximos. The list of Cypriot bishops is full of gaps, especially during this period, so that the mention of the donor’s name has contributed nothing towards a more precise dating of this icon.
The icon is painted directly on wood; the board is slightly hollowed out so as to form a thin raised border. The right section of the icon has been destroyed, and the work as a whole is severely damaged. The Saint is shown frontally, from the waist up. The purple maphorion that enfolds her stands out vividly against the gold background. She holds in both hands an icon of the “Christ of Pity”. According to Cypriot tradition, this is a personification of Good Friday.
There is a certain difference in the rendering of the Saint’s face and Christ’s face. St. Paraskevi’s face is rendered with a warm reddish ochre combined with the olive-green shadow of the underpaint, like the face of the Virgin in the catholicon of the monastery of the Virgin of Arakas, dated 1577. In contrast, Christ’s face is modelled with cold tones and relatively few highlighted surfaces; we find a similar treatment in the icons of the “Dodecaorton Series” (Nos. 53-56) on the iconostasis of the catholicon at the monastery of St. Neophytos. This indicates that the icon may be assigned to the mid-16th century.
The icon is made of two boards secured at the back by two strips. It is painted directly on wood. The painting is badly damaged. Large pieces of paint have flaked off.
The Virgin is shown in the type of the Glykophiloussa (or Eleoussa). Her head is inclined towards Christ, but her gaze is fixed upon infinity. She holds the Infant on her left arm, while her right hand supports Christ’s left hand. With graceful, childish innocence Christ brings his face close to his mother’s. His right hand, resting on his knee, holds a rolled scroll, instead of clasping the Virgin’s neck, as the traditional posture demands. In the upper part of the icon, there are two Angels, depicted half-length, of which only traces have survived. The haloes are in relief against the gold background.
Gold jewel-like crosses decorate the maphorion on the Virgin’s head and shoulders. The earring in the Virgin’s ear is a rare detail. Christ is wearing a light grey chiton with black embroidery and a light brown himation with numerous gold lines stemming from gold centres of light. The modelling of the faces combines olive-green shadows with a reddish ochre, criss-crossed with profuse white linear highlights. The marked shading and the linear highlights relate this work to other icons belonging to the second and third decades of the 16th century.
The under-garment worn by both men and women from the Greek period on. It was a loose tunic, either with or without sleeves.
The dead Christ, depicted erect in a sarcophagus. The Cross is usually represented in the background.
A purple or gold band decorating the chiton across the shoulder. It was a distinctive mark of Roman senators. In Byzantine art, it usually appears in representations of Christ, angels and apostles.
A school of religious painting which flourished mainly from the second half of the 15th century to the middle of the 17th century. The designation is derived from the fact that the School’s most important exponents came from the island of Crete.
Christ between the Virgin and St. John the Baptist who intercede with Him on behalf of mankind.
An iconographical type in which the Virgin holds the Child Christ on her right arm.
A two-leaved tablet carved or painted.
A selection of twelve scenes illustrating the principal events in the lives of Christ and the Virgin. They correspond to the great liturgical festivals of the ecclesiastical year of the Orthodox Church.
An iconographical type in which the Virgin holds the Child Christ in her arms. Jesus presses his cheek against His Mother’s and embraces her tenderly. The Eleoussa type is also designated as the Glykophiloussa. A technique of painting in which the pigments are mixed with wax and fused with heat, thus fixing the colours.
Part of the Orthodox ecclesiastical vestments. It is a rectangular piece of fabric attached to the sticharion over the right thigh. It was, from the middle of the 14th century onward, replaced by the epigonation. Part of the Orthodox ecclesiastical vestments. A stiff, lozenge shaped piece of fabric suspended over the right knee.
Part of the ecclesiastical vestments. Gold-embroidered cuffs.
A luminous disk usually encircling the figure of Christ.
An expanded version of the Deesis, including the Deesis group proper (Christ among the Virgin and the Baptist), angels, apostles and other saints.
A Sanctuary. The term designates also the holy water.
An iconographical theme applying to Christ being led to the Crucifixion. A Throne upon which are usually represented the Cross, the Gospel, the Dove and the Symbols of the Passion. It has an apocalyptic content and forms an integral part of representations of the Last Judgement. Provided with six wings. According to the Vision of Isaiah, the Seraphim are represented with six wings.
The screen isolating the Sanctuary (bema) of an Orthodox church. A towel.
A long gold-embroidered strip of cloth, decorated with pearls, worn by Byzantine emperors over their robes.
Icons of the Virgin and St. John the Theologian standing on either side of the Crucifix in the top section of the iconostasis.
A school of mainly monumental painting which appeared during the Palaeologue period, particularly during the late 13th and early 14th centuries. It was thus named because the most important known specimens of this school are to be found in Greek and Serbian Macedonia. Greek painters working in Italy in a Byzantine style which reveals Western influence. The name is derived from the fact that these artists usually painted panels of the Virgin.
The oval glory usually surrounding the figure of Christ.
Female garment covering the head and shoulders.
The distinctive scarf worn by bishops of the Orthodox Church. It is an embroidered strip of white silk, worn around the neck, with its two ends crossing on the left shoulder and falling to the knee.
A figure with arms extended in prayer.
Part of the priests’ and bishops’ vestments. A kind of chasuble worn over the sticharion.
Part of the Orthodox ecclesiastical vestments. A tunic.
The lower transverse support of the Cross.