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2.43 Part of an epistyle with scenes from Christ's Passion
Iviron Monastery
Wood, egg tempera, 147 x 46 cm
Cretan School. Theophanis the Cretan


The Original New Testament

This section of the epistyle contains three scenes from Christ's Passion: the Betrayal, the Judgment of the High Priests, and Peter's Denial. Like no. 2.42, this piece is from the epistyle of the iconostasis that was in the monastery's katholikon in the second quarter of the sixteenth century. Of the twenty-four scenes painted on the epistyle, twelve survive today. Each scene occupies a separate compartment defined by a carved relief arch resting on colonnettes, the spandrels being filled with a rosette in the centre of three acanthus leaves.

All three scenes display close similarities with iconographical types which Theophanis used in the katholika of Anapafsas Monastery, Meteora (1527), the Great Lavra (1535), and Stavronikita (1545/6).

With the agitated crowd of Jews surrounding the central figures of Christ and Judas, the scene of Betrayal is identical to the wall paintings of the same subject in the Great Lavra and particularly Stavronikita, with regard to the iconography, the arrangement of the scene, and the use of the same iconographical types.

In the Judgment of the High Priests, the iconographical and structural format is the same as in the wall paintings of the same scene in the katholika of Anapafsas Monastery and the Great Lavra. From this point of view, it is interesting to note that on this epistyle and in the katholikon of Anapafsas Monastery the poses and gestures of all the figures that compose the scene are identical, as are the furnishings and the buildings that accompany the main subject.

The same holds for Peter's Denial, in which the iconography of the scene, with the three successive incidents, and the typology of the faces are identical to those of the same scene in Anapafsas Monastery.

With regard to their iconography, the scenes on these two sections of the Iviron epistyle are characterised by the selection of the same iconographical types, which belong to the tradition of the fifteenth-century Cretan School, but were established in the sixteenth century by Theophanis. The iconography of the scenes is chiefly characterised by a narrative simplicity that is classical in style, and they are dominated by the human figure, harmoniously linked with the other elements of the representation - buildings and landscape - in strong structural schemata.

From an artistic point of view, the Iviron epistyle is distinguished by the high standard of its painting, as evidenced by the sensitive, but unfaltering design, which renders the figures with confidence and portrays the natural environment and the buildings with an assured hand, as also by the artist's synthetic ability, which produces compositions that are classical both in their structure and in their expressive quality. These are characteristics that have been ascribed to the synthetic powers and merit of Theophanis, that great artist who creatively assimilated and enriched with his own talent the achievements of the Cretan School of the fifteenth century.

With regard to portraiture and style, the physiognomical characteristics of the Iviron epistyle are also constants in Theophanis's work as a whole. As far as technique is concerned, the rendering of the faces and clothing reflects the established techniques of the Cretan School, which Theophanis adopted.

The close iconographical and stylistic similarities between this section of the Iviron epistyle and Theophanis's work enable us to ascribe it unreservedly to him.

Bibliography: Tsigaridas 1991-2, pp. 185-208, figs. 2, 8-11.

Index of exhibits of Monastery of Iviron
16th 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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