Icon with a representation of the Dormition of the Virgin

The Dormition of the Virgin is depicted in the icon’s large central panel. The composition is arranged symmetrically around the vertical axis formed by Christ holding the Virgin’s soul and the horizontal axis formed by the bier on which the Virgin lies dead. The choir of the apostles and hierarchs are gathered around the Virgin, mourning. The setting features two buildings with balconies and openings which frame the scene, while a semi-circular colonnade serves as a unifying element in the composition. The corner panels of the icon’s wooden frame contain scenes from the life of the Virgin. Four hymnographers have been depicted in the spaces between the corner panels, two full-bodied and two frontally from the waist up, holding scrolls containing hymns to the Virgin. The organization of the composition and its correlations with the hymnographic texts, the monumental correctly-proportioned figures, the gentle folds in the garments draped over the bodies, the clear outlines and symmetry enhanced by the background and use of micrography reveal a painter educated in art and theology to a high level. The composition of the icon, and in particular the references to the hymnography, recall structurally the interpretative approaches chosen by the creators of the mosaic decoration of the Chora monastery in Constantinople. The resemblance to this emblematic work, coupled with the theological and painterly sophistication of the artist who created this icon, would indicate a provenance in a Constantinopolitan workshop.

Chatzidakis N. 2007. Catalogue no. 104, in Skampavias K.—Chatzidakis N. (eds), Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum.Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art, Athens, 114–119.