Praising Sacred Icons as Art

Icons are not intended to be viewed in Western art-critical terms. Iconographers create them as sacred objects of Orthodox Christian devotion. Nonetheless, these stylized ritual artifacts can be appreciated for their aesthetic qualities as well as their spiritual essence.

Christ Pantocrator of St. Catherine’s Monastery at Sinai. 6th century
St. George, c. 1750. Courtesy of the Museum of Russian Icons
Enameled frame with silver loop at top for a neck chain.
rchangel Gabriel, c. 1600
Russia, Rostov School
Museum of Russian Icons
con with St. John the Baptist, Crete c.1450.
British Museum, London
Byzantine icon of Saint Michael the Archangel
13th century; Saint Catherine’s Monastery Mount Sinai, Egypt
Christ Pantocrator by Theophanis the Cretan, 16th century,
Iviron Monastery, Mount Athos
Christ Pantocrator, The Deisis Mosaic in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
In Deisis depictions the Virgin and John the Baptist appeal to Christ on behalf of humanity for mercy at the time of judgment.
Christ Pantocrator, mosaic at St George’s Orthodox Church, Houston, TX
Bogorodichni ikoni: An 18th-century Russian chart of the various types of Bogoroditsa (Mother-of-God) icons
Mother of God Vladimirskaya, c. 1680.
The Museum of Russian Icons. Clinton MA
Mother of God Vladimirskaya, c. 1680. Courtesy of the Museum of Russian Icons. Clinton MA
Icon with Virgin and the Christ Child, ca. 1500 or later; Russian or Greek. Ivory, 3 1/8 x 2 1/2 x 5/16 in.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Agiosortissa, Dionysiou Monastery, Cretan School
by Euphrosynos, 1542
13th-century Great Panagia from Yaroslavl
Mummy Portrait c. 100 AD
Hawara, Egypt. British Museum
St. Catherine’s Monastery at Sinai holds more than half of all the Byzantine icons that survive in the world today.

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