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Athos Holy Mount

Portable Icons
2.71 The Pentecost
Stavronikita Monastery
Wood, egg tempera, 54 x 39 cm
Cretan School. Theophanis the Cretan


The Original New Testament

The Apostles are depicted in two groups seated on a horseshoe-shaped bench with a back and footrest. They are led by Peter and Paul. The four Evangelists and St Paul hold closed books; Peter and the rest of the Apostles hold closed scrolls. Tongues of flame emerge from the opening in the heavens at the top of the icon and descend onto the heads of the twelve Apostles. In the horseshoe-shaped space in the lower part of the icon, an elderly figure in profile, wearing royal robes and a crown, is the personification of the world. He holds a piece of fabric containing twelve rolled scrolls. Behind the bench a Π-shaped building with a flat roof and large openings provides the backdrop against which the scene takes place. On the gold ground of the icon, below the opening in the heavens, is the inscription: 'The Pentecost'.

In this icon of the Pentecost, Theophanis adopts the iconographical format which began to evolve after the Iconoclast period (Grabar 1968, pp. 615-17) and which passed, by way of the Palaeologan artistic tradition (Millet 1910, pl. 121.2. Soteriou 1956, figs. 79, 216), into the Cretan School of the fifteenth, and subsequently of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Papageorghiou 1969, p. 56. Papageorghiou 1991, fig. 135. Chatzidakis 1969-70, fig. 42. Chatzidakis 1962, fig. 78. Eikones, no. 153, and others). Theophanis adopted the same iconographical format in the katholika of the Great Lavra (1535) and Stavronikita (1545-6), the only difference being that in the Great Lavra the building in the background is more complex (Millet 1927, pl. 118.2. Chatzidakis 1986 (1), fig. 103).

Bibliography: Chatzidakis 1969-70, fig. 81. Patrinelis - Karakatsani - Theochari 1974, p. 94, fig. 28. Dodekaorton, no. 14.

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