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Athos Holy Mount

Portable Icons
2.85 Great Deesis and All Saints
17th c.
Skete of St Anne
Wood, egg tempera, 191 x 18.5 cm


The Original New Testament

This is an extremely long and narrow icon with the Great Deesis in the centre flanked on both sides by the representation of All Saints. All the figures are half-length and facing the centre, only Christ being portrayed frontally. Behind the Virgin come two archangels followed by the Apostle Peter, then the Apostle Paul, the Patriarchs and Prophets. On the other side, behind John the Baptist and again two archangels stand the group of hierarchs, headed by St John Chrysostom. After the hierarchs come monks and ascetics, the last figure on the right being that of St Mary of Egypt. On the extreme right is the Prophet Solomon with an open scroll with the words: 'The righteous live forever, and their reward is with the Lord', and the composition is completed on the far left with the Prophet David.

The icon came originally from the iconostasis of the abandoned Kalyve of the Koimesis above the kyriakon of the Skete of St Anne. The icon's subject matter is also suited to this position above the iconostasis: the Deesis (Trimorphon) formed the nucleus round which angels and apostles were added to fill up the space for the Great Deesis above the iconostasis. This theme is found on Mount Athos at least from the sixteenth century, as attested by the unpublished sixteenth-century Great Deesis in the Monastery of St Paul. The Deesis, enriched with a multitude of apostles and saints, formed the central theme of the Last Judgement, with its hosts of saints known from Athonite icon painting (Oxford Dictionary 1991, p. 600). This icon, dating to the beginning of the seventeenth century, connects, through its shape and the inscription of the Great Deesis and Last Judgement-All Saints, themes that were common in Athonite churches in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Bibliography: Unpublished.

Index of exhibits of Skete of St. Anne
17th 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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