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Athos Holy Mount

Portable Icons
2.69 The Incredulity of Thomas
Stavronikita Monastery
Wood, egg tempera, 52 x 37 cm
Cretan School. Theophanis the Cretan


The Original New Testament

Christ is depicted in the centre of the scene, in front of the closed doors, in accordance with the text of John 20:26, of a bulky cuboid building with a low dome. He raises his right hand, revealing the spearwound in his right side; the marks of the nails are visible on his hands and feet. Christ is flanked by the disciples in two equal groups, their faces and gestures manifesting their wonder and amazement at the event. At the front of the left-hand group of disciples is Thomas, stretching forth his right hand and placing his finger on Christ's pierced side. Two identical sections of the walls of Jerusalem behind the two groups of disciples form the backdrop to the scene.

The basic features of the scene reflect an iconographical type seen in frescoes and icons from the Palaeologan period (Millet 1910, pl. 121.1. Millet 1927, pl. 27.3. Felicetti-Liebenfels 1956, fig. 82B). Theophanis also adopted the iconographical format of the Stavronikita Incredulity of Thomas in the katholikon of the Great Lavra (Millet 1927, pl. 119.3) and in the Dodekaorton on the epistyle in Iviron Monastery (Tsigaridas 1991-2, p. 193, fig. 13). He seems to have taken this iconographical format from the tradition of the fifteenth-century Cretan School, and an icon in the Hellenic Institute in Venice (Chatzidakis 1962, no. 9, pl. 11) suggests that it was used with slight variations in the sixteenth century in other places too, not only on Mount Athos (Millet 1927, pls. 154.2, 223.3).

Bibliography: Chatzidakis 1969-70, fig. 79. Patrinelis - Karakatsani - Theochari 1974, p. 90, fig. 26. Dodekaorton, no. 11.

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