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Athos Holy Mount

Portable Icons
2.51 The Archangel Gabriel (Great Deesis)
Wood, egg tempera, 116 x 94 cm
Cretan School


The Original New Testament

Gabriel is portrayed from the waist up, turning to his right, his hands held in a gesture of supplication towards Christ in the centre of the Great Deesis composition. The youthful figure has long curly hair bound with a blue ribbon and wears a dark green tunic and himation with bluish highlights. Gold striation mark out the details on his large brown wings. On a gold ground in the upper left and right corners is the inscription: 'The Archangel Gabriel'.

Gabriel's oval face is rendered like Michael's with brown underpainting that forms an outline of the whole face and a nasal shadow. The flesh is a pinkish ochre accentuated with white highlights in the form of parallel curved lines on the brow, under the eyes, on the chin, and on the neck. The facial features are rendered in a linear manner. 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: Xyngopoulos 1954, pl. 4. Chatzidakis 1956, pp. 283-4, pl. ΚΕ΄. 1. Chatzidakis 1969-70, pp. 326-7, pl. 85. Borboudakis 1993, pp. 11-13, fig. 15.

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