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Athos Holy Mount

Monumental Painting
1.5 Prophet Ezekiel
ca. 1535-46
Pantokrator Monastery
Fresco, 114 x 51 cm
Cretan School. Theophanis the Cretan.



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The Prophet is painted on a concave surface, apparently from the ridged dome of one of the monastery's chapels, a position customarily decorated with figures of Prophets.

In this fresco the figure of Ezekiel, which is almost extant, is portrayed standing, head and body turned slightly towards the left; an open scroll, most of which is missing, is held in his left hand, and his right hand is visible through his garment. This figure, with its rhythmic motion, the fullness of the body volume and the fleshiness of the rough-hewn face, head supported firmly on a short, sturdy neck, has parallels in paintings of the Cretan School, and especially in the work of Theophanis. From the point of view of facial type and technique in particular, the same face can be seen in the frescoes in the katholikon of the Monastery of Anapafsas, in the katholikon of the Great Lavra, and in the katholikon of the Stavronikita Monastery (Chatzidakis 1969-70, figs. 6-7, 52, 56. Chatzidakis 1986 (1), figs. 28-9), all of which were painted by Theophanis and date from 1527, 1535 and 1545/6 respectively.

From the stylistic aspect, the figure of Ezekiel is notable for the taut modelling of the face, the clean, graceful line of the beard, the profundity of the gaze and the mature ethos, all characteristics typical of the work of Theophanis. From this point of view, and in the absence of published comparable material from the katholikon of the Anapafsas and the Great Lavra, it is instructive to compare Ezekiel with the fresco of Jeremiah in the katholikon of the Stavronikita Monastery (Chatzidakis 1986 (1), figs. 28-9).

On the basis of the above, we feel that the fresco of Ezekiel can be ascribed to the artistic activity of Theophanis on Mount Athos during the period 1535-46; no more precise dating is at present possible, given that the frescoes of the katholika of the Anapafsas and the Great Lavra are still unpublished.

Bibliography: Tsigaridas 1978, pp. 191-2, pls. 11α-β. Tsigaridas 1997 (3) (forthcoming).

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