- Museum number
- Object: Christ ‘Pantocrator’ (‘Our Lord in Powers’)
Icon; painted with egg tempera, gesso and gold on wood; the enthroned Christ is depicted raising his right hand in blessing and holding an opened gospel in his left. He is enclosed by a blue-green mandorla with an outer red rectangle and inner red rhombus. The mandorla is decorated with depictions of the Heavenly Hierarchy, including thrones, cherubs, powers and virtues. Within each corner of the outer rectangle is an Evangelist's symbol: upper left: an angel (Matthew); upper right: an eagle (Mark); lower left: a lion (John); lower right: a bull (Luke); Greek and Cyrillic inscriptions.
- Production date
Height: 111.80 centimetres
Thickness: 3 centimetres
Width: 83 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- The iconography of this scene was developed in the early 15th century in Russia by the Byzantine artist Feofan Grec (Theophanes the Greek). The symbolic meaning of the composition finds its explanation in images of the Last Judgment, where Christ appears within a mandorla. Elements of the composition were inspired both by Byzantine and Western sources. The green-blue mandorla could be interpreted as an image of the Universe, whilst the outer rectangle with symbols of the Evangelists symbolized the Earth. According to Ezekiel the inner red rhomb is a symbol of Divine Fire. Christ within such a mandorla is an allegory of God as described in the Book of Revelation: ‘that sat upon the throne’ (Rev. 21:5) and ‘a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a carnelian: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald’ (Rev. 4:2, 3). The Evangelists’ symbols are depicted according to Irenaeus of Lyons (130–200) in their traditional position (see Galavaris 1979, 35–9).
In Russian art from the 15th century onwards ‘Christ in Powers’ became the focal point of the iconastasis where it was often the central icon of the Deesis tier. The Museum’s icon, executed for Old Believers in the 19th century, follows a 16th-century tradition known from many icons. In particular its combination of words from both the Gospels of John and Matthew written on the opened gospel held by Christ can be paralleled on numerous icons of that period (see Evseeva and Sorokaty 2000, 110–15 for a mid-16th-century example in the Rubliov Museum, Moscow).
Cormack 2007, 103 and 105, figs 65 and 129, no. 66
- Not on display
- Made from two panels with a ‘kovcheg’; two inserted battens on the reverse; the paint layer on the background has been scraped down to the gesso and there are several later gesso infillings along the panel joints and losses of the gesso on the upper border.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- See 1998,0605.1 Most of the items catalogued under 1998,0605 were acquired by Sir Frank Roberts’ wife, Cella.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: IC 67 (Icon Collection number)