Eastern Mediterranean; perhaps Asia Minor
Post-Byzantine, Greek, Orthodox
Wood, paint, and gold leaf
3 11/16 × 4 5/8 × 1/2 in. (9.5 × 11.8 × 1.3 cm)
Bequest of David P. Harris ('46), 2020
Purchased by David P. Harris from A. Sirapion (Markar) in Athens on March 8, 1968. At the time of purchase, Marker Antiques Shops and Works of Art was located on Ifestou Street in the Monastiraki district. The owner, Agop. Serapian retired in 2007, and currently his son takes charge of the store, which has moved east to Tsakalov 5 in Athens. Harris postulated that the work was from Asia Minor (nowadays Turkey); and given that it was in Greece by 1968, the object meets the guidelines set by the 1970 UNESCO Convention, AAM, and AAMD. The object however, was not protected by bilateral agreements regarding artifact importation between the US and Greece in 1968 (the earliest bilateral agreement between the two countries was in 2011). By 1968, only a few laws in Greece (perhaps only 1-2) protected the exportation of this piece to another country.
Poor to Medium condition. In numerous instances, the paint has fallen off the support, revealing the wood underneath (see, for example, the work’s bottom left corner). Some areas also show a suddenly darkened tone. A painted flake has fallen off of the top right corner of the work, where it was still present when the icon was first photographed at Kenyon on December 10, 2020. September 2022. - Jerry Wu ('23)
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Jesus Christ (in Arabic)
ΜΡ ΘΥ = Μ(ήτη)ρ Θ(εο)ῦ = Mother of God
ΠΡω[...]Ο[...]ΗωC = [Ὁ ἅγιος] Προ[κ]ό[π]ιος = Saint Prokopios
Μ = Μ(ιχαήλ) = Michael
Γ = Γ(αβριήλ) = Gabriel
Brad Hostetler, with Ani Parnagian, "From Private to Public: The Collection of David P. Harris," in Ethiopian Objects in the Blick-Harris Study Collection: Art, Context, and the Persistence of Form, eds. Brad Hostetler, and Lynn Jones, Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art & Architecture 8, no. 1 (Spring 2022): 5–25. https://digital.kenyon.edu/perejournal/vol8/iss1/1/
This icon is a painted rectangular wooden panel, with a size that is comfortable to sit in the palm. The background of the painted side is gilded. At the center of the composition, Jesus Christ is crucified on a huge cross, which extends beyond the work’s upper frame. His sinuated torso makes an S-curve, indicating his state of unconsciousness following the crucifixion. On his face, a vestigial of his last trace of life, the furrowed forehead caused by his lifted eyebrows gives us a share of sorrow and pain that he has endured. At his waistline, a large, encompassing wall with four towers — which can be iconographically understood as the wall of Jerusalem — extends behind the figure, demarcating the background from the foreground. The archangels, Michael and Gabrial, are positioned on either side of the cross, facing and pointing to the crucified figure with excruciating expressions on their faces. At the lower left of the work, in the foreground before the wall, another male figure also looks and gestures toward the crucified Christ. His facial expression has been articulated with the elevated eyebrows and enlarged pupils, which we can read as surprise, awe, or fear. At the lower right side of the panel, a veiled female figure, Mary, holds her young son, Jesus, in her left hand. Though not very legible, Mary seems to have her eyes drooped down, signaling a sense of melancholia and pity; the boy, on the other hand, looks softly yet resolutely to his mother. To the right of the Hodegetria (an art historical term for the mother-child pair), a youthful male figure, Saint Prokopios, stands by, skewing his head to the side giving his full attention to the mother and child. Each of the figures, except for the man to the lower left, has a semi-circular, crescent halo behind their head and is identified by an inscription. The inscriptions are written in Greek, except for the one in Arabic that names Jesus Christ, on the cross.
Jerry Wu ('23) for ARHS 291 Museum Object (Fall 2022).