Icon depicting Christ as Great High Priest

Christ is portrayed to the waist, in frontal pose, in the prelatic vestments of a Great High Priest. On his head is a hemispherical mitre with prependulia. He holds an open gospel book in his left hand and blesses with the right.

Christ’s attire is highly austere. He wears a dark patriarchal sakkos diapered with gold crosses embellished with precious stones, which are inscribed in rectangles defined by similarly decorated lines, and beneath this an off-white sticharion, the narrow sleeves and the gold-embroidered maniples of which are visible. Over the sakkos is a white omophorion with widely-spaced gold crosses, with large red gems on the arms and a blue stone at the centre; there are two crosses on the chest, another one is at the level of the abdomen and a fourth is discerned in the over-fold of the garment, between the hands. The Lord holds an open gospel book, set slightly askew, with red-edged folios in the closed part and a large, well-written inscription from the two biblical passages that usually accompany the representation.

The imposing figure of Christ is characterized by the elegant, flawless drawing and clear out-lines, both on the features of the face with its grave ethos, and the fingers. The decoration of the vestments is spare, while the mitre is ornamented with a few precious stones and pearls in geometric design, as well as finely-drawn gold rinceaux. The halo, on which only the outline of a large cross is visible, is undecorated.

The sternness of the figure is distinguished by the assiduous rendering of some details, such as the soft over-folds on the sleeve, which the thin black stripes follow, the tiny round buttons on the maniple, well-drawn and set very close to one another with a little cord hanging at the end, the oblique placement of the voluminous gospel book, with the white pages casting a kind of shadow at the centre and curling naturally from their weight.

Chatzidakis N. 2007. Catalogue no. 128, in Skampavias K.—Chatzidakis N. (eds), Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum.Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art, Athens, 182-185.