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Athos Holy Mount

Portable Icons
2.28 Bema doors: the Annunciation
14th-15th c.
Simonopetra Monastery
Wood, egg tempera, 126 x 42 cm (each door)


The Original New Testament

The Archangel Gabriel is depicted on the left door, standing and facing the Virgin. He holds a herald's wand in his left hand and proffers his right in an oratorical gesture. The Virgin is depicted on the right door, her body slightly turned towards the archangel, her stance and gesture eloquent of her humble submission to the will of God. Gabriel is dressed in a deep blue tunic and olive green himation; the Virgin wears a dark green tunic and a bluish, brick-red mantle. In her left hand, which hangs close to her body, she holds a spindle wound with red thread. The two figures are painted, with no details of spatial context, on a green lower and orange upper ground, the latter an imitation of gold.

The artist follows a strict iconographical format, with discreet poses and gestures, the movements unemphasised, and the faces inward looking, utterly overwhelmed by the mystery of the divine incarnation. In this respect the icon has a parallel in the fourteenth-century bema doors in the Great Lavra (Vocotopoulos 1995, no. 116).

Stylistically, the shadowy tones that predominate in the faces, with the bold lines imparting a luminous sheen, the highlights on Gabriel's garment, and the drapery hanging in harmonious relation to the body beneath link these bema doors with artistic trends of the second half of the fourteenth century (Xyngopoulos 1956, pl. 7.1, 8.2), which continued in the painting of the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, as is attested by the fourteenth- to fifteenth-century bema doors on Siphnos (Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art, no. 90).

Bibliography: Kissas 1991, p. 188, fig. 105.

Index of exhibits of Monastery of Simonopetra
14th century

The Authentic Greek New Testament Bilingual New Testament I

Icon of the Mother of God and New Testament Reader Promote Greek Learning
Three Millennia of Greek Literature

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