Eastern Mediterranean; perhaps Asia Minor
Byzantine, Post-Byzantine, Greek, Orthodox
Tempera and gold on wood
5 1/2 × 2 1/2 × 1/16 in. (13.97 × 6.35 × 1.52 cm)
Bequest of David P. Harris ('46), 2020
Purchased by David P. Harris from Markar in Athens on January 24, 1968. No information was available about Markar or A. Serapian past this exchange. Serapian described the Wing as of the 16th century, while Harris reported it as 17th century. In line with two Greek laws - “Codification des dispositions de la loi N.32-5351 et des dispositions applicables des lois N.2447, 491 et 4823 ainsi que du Décret-Loi du 12/16 juin 1926 (1926)” and “Loi N.216 (décret-loi N.634/1960) sur l'organisation du service de restauration des antiquités (1943)” – Harris reported his purchase of the object to a Mrs Sotiriou, who was the Director of the Byzantine Museum in Athens. She cleaned the object and gave Harris the time estimate of the piece being Late Byzantine. Because the piece was purchased before 1970, the paper receipt Harris procured from A. Serapian is perfectly fine documentation, according to AAM, AAMD, and UNESCO.
Some of the gold has come off of the side with Mary, particularly in the area around her head, where her halo would have been. A portion of the red inscription that labeled her image is still visible in this section. This side also shows some staining along the edges of the image, as well as a chip in the upper-left corner, with a section of wood missing. The other side, with Saints Nicholas and Demetrios, also exhibits some loss of gold around the halos. The gold is also flaking off along the hinge and bottom edges of both sides of the piece. According to Harris’s own records, this icon was cleaned in 1968 by Maria Sotiriou in Athens, Greece. While the extent and location of this cleaning is not known, one can detect a slight sheen in spots along Mary’s lower half, hinting at a possible restoration. September 2022. - Elizabeth Redmond ('25)
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Parts of the red inscriptions accompanying Mary and Saint Nicholas are visible on the right sides of their heads. The Greek inscription labeling Saint Demetrios is complete.
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 two-sided painted wooden panel features Mary, the Mother of God, on one side and Saints Nicholas and Demetrios on the other. Mary is shown as a full length figure, while Saints Nicholas and Demetrios are depicted from the waist up. This panel was originally the right wing of a triptych; the hooked hinges that would have connected this wing to the triptych are visible along the short edge.
Mary stands on a golden platform in front of a gold chair with a red cushion. Three blue rays extend toward her from the arc of heaven in the upper left corner. Her head is bowed to the left, and she gestures her extended right hand in the same direction. She wears a dark blue chiton (a long tunic) and a red maphorion (a garment to cover the head and shoulders) with dark red slippers. She holds a spool of thread in her left hand, referencing how upon the Annunciation she was caught unawares while working.
The other side depicts Saints Nicholas and Demetrios. Nicholas is positioned in the upper half with Demetrios below him. Their gaze is fixed to their left, but they are positioned frontally. Saint Nicholas is wearing a red robe with a white cross-inscribed omophorion (an Eastern Orthodox vestment for bishops). In his left hand, he holds a golden and red closed book; his right hand has two fingers lifted towards the viewer in an act of blessing. Nicholas has white hair with a white beard. His halo has been scraped off, along with his inscription. Demetrios is wearing a red tunic covered by a blue cloak. His left hand is raised in front of his body with his palm facing outward. Demetrios holds a gold cross with three intersections in his right hand. The cross is an attribute that symbolizes his martyrdom. Demetrios has brown hair and no beard, giving him a youthful appearance. His halo is chipped on the left side but is mostly intact. His labeling inscription, in red, is complete.
Elizabeth Redmond ('25) for ARHS 291 Museum Object (Fall 2022).