Icon with four Church feasts

Byzantine, AD 1310-20
From Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey) or Thessaloniki, Greece

The Nativity, Annunciation, Baptism and Transfiguration

The icon consists of two curved vertical panels, each carved with two arched compartments. The scenes from the life of Christ shown in the compartments are celebrated as Feast days of the Christian Church. At the top left is the Annunciation, with Mary in an architectural setting receiving the archangel Gabriel. The upper right compartment shows the Nativity in a rocky landscape. Mary rests on a bright red bed with the infant Christ in a manger above her; angels and shepherd celebrate above, while below two midwives bathe the infant, watched by Joseph. At the lower left Christ, standing in the River Jordan, is baptised by St John the Baptist; Angels with towels attend Him. On the final compartment He ascends in a rayed mandorla, flanked by Elijah and Moses and with Peter, James and John fallen to ground before him.

This icon was brought to England in 1851, together with Syriac manuscripts from the monastery of St Mary Deipara in Egypt. It was originally in the collection of the Department of Manuscripts (now part of the British Library), but was later transferred to what was then known as the Department of Antiquities. It is listed as the first acquisition in the National Icon Collection of the United Kingdom.

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More information

Bibliography

D. Buckton (ed.), Byzantium: treasures of Byzant (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

Dimensions

Height: 38.800 cm
Width: 13.000 cm
Length: 38.000 cm

Museum number

M&ME 1852,1-2,1-2

MCB3680;MCB1946

Transferred from the Department of Manuscripts, British Library

Location

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