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Athos Holy Mount

Portable Icons
2.50 The Archangel Michael (Great Deesis)
Wood, egg tempera, 116 x 91.5 cm
Cretan School


The Original New Testament

Michael is portrayed from the waist up, turning to the right, holding out his hands in a gesture of supplication towards Christ in the centre of the Great Deesis group. The youthful figure has long curly hair bound by a blue ribbon and wears a deep blue chiton with a clavus and a russet-coloured himation with greyish-blue highlights. On a gold ground in the upper left and right corners is the inscription: 'The Archangel Michael'.

On the oval face and areas of bare flesh, the underpainting, which is uncovered and denotes the shadowed areas, is dark brown, while the illuminated surfaces are a pinkish ochre. Fine white parallel striations on the brow, cheeks, and neck illuminate the flesh. On the basis of stylistic criteria, this icon of the Archangel Gabriel may be attributed to Zorzis, who learned his art on Mount Athos, probably under Theophanis (see no. 2.53).

Bibliography: Chatzidakis 1956, pp. 283-4. Chatzidakis 1969-70, pp. 326-7. Borboudakis 1993, pp. 11-13, fig. 14.

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