Icon Gallery : Room 4



13. THE LAST JUDGMENT


Late 15th - early 16th century
187 x 134. Egg tempera on lime wood.
From the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in the village of Mshana, Lviv region. Lviv National Museum.
# i-1181
192k, jpeg.


The Last Judgment is one of the most popular themes in Christian art, both West- European and Eastern. It has its sources in the texts of Old and New Testaments, apocrypha and various theological works, among which the sermons of Ephraem Syrus (4th c.) were of special significance. This subject was already known in the monumental painting of Kyivan Rus' in the 12th century (St. Cyril's Church in Kyiv, the Dormition Cathedral of the Yeletsky Monastery in Chernihiv). According to Byzantine tradition the Second Advent of Christ, or the Last Judgment, was represented according to a strict scheme in which each part of the composition was subordinated hieratically to the others. The icon from the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin is based on such a scheme.
The main personage of the subject, Jesus Christ, appears as Judge, His figure being represented above, in the aureole of Glory, the mandorla. Along with an angelic host, the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist are interceding on man's behalf (the Deesis). The upper left corner shows the holy city of Jerusalem, the right corner features Golgotha with instruments of the Passion and a black circle ('the darkness') to which angels, armed with red spears cast devils down. Above Christ's head angels are roiling up the scroll of the heavens. Beneath Him there is an empty throne ( etimasia ) with an open book. Flanking it are kneeling Adam and Eve, and lower a hand is represented holding the souls of the righteous and the scales on which the good deeds and sins of man are weighed. Behind Adam and Eve the apostles sit and in the lower registers the righteous are represented to the left, while the heterodoxy are situated to the right. Before them stands the prophet Moses with a tablet. From beneath Adam's heel, the snake of sin coils down to the mouth of a two-headed beast mounted by Be-el'zebub bearing the soul of Judas. The snake's body is ringed symbolizing man's sins. And at every ring good forces (angels) struggle with evil forces (devils) for man's soul. A flaming river streams from Christ's gloriole, skirting a medallion on the right with personified symbols of the earth and sea. which yield up the dead to God's judgment, and angels of the four corners of the earth announce the Judgment with their trumpets. The tower section depicts infernal torments, and among the sinners we can see an innkeeper filling casks with wine. The left lower section depicts Paradise, its entrance guarded by a flaming seraph.



14. THE VIRGIN ELEUSA


Late 15th - early 16th century
106 x 79. Egg tempera on lime wood.
From the Church of St. Luke in the village of Dorosyni, Volhynia region. Lviv Picture Gallery (the Castle of Olesko).
# m-3745
163k, jpeg.


he icon depicts the Virgin Mary admiring the Child who usually, in Eleusa icons, is seen with His cheek pressed to His mother's, and embracing her.
The popularity of this type in Rus'-Ukraine was promoted by a miracle-working Eleusa icon brought from Constantinople to Vyshgorod near Kyiv in the early 12th century. In 1155 Prince Andriy Bogolyubsky transferred it to Vladimir-on-the-Klyazma and the icon eventually came to be known as the Virgin of Vladimir. Due to its outstanding artistic merits it became a palladium of the Russian state, and legends concerning its miracles were widespread. Many copies of it were made.
Though the Ukrainian icon from the village of Dorosyni belongs to the same Eleusa type it has nevertheless a number of significant original features: the Child is painted in the right part of the composition (while in the Virgin of Vladimir, He is on the left) and corners of the icon present the Archangels Gabriel and Michael, as in Hodigitria type icons. The gestures of the hands of Mary and the Child differ as well, while the position of their legs is analogous. The artist also created an unusual image of the Mother of God. Her face has an air of artless innocence and bears an expression of defenselessness, deeply moving in the light of the sufferings in store for her and her Child. The decorative aspect of the icon is based on a restrained colour scheme with occasional bright yellow flash-like tones.



15. THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE


Late 15th - early 16th century
62 x 43. Egg tempera on lime wood.
From St. Demetrius' Church in the village of Zhohatyn (Poland). Lviv National Museum.
# i-1689
171k, jpeg.


The subject of the icon appeared on the basis of narration from St. Luke's Gospel. It tells how forty days after Christ's Nativity Joseph and Mary went to the Temple in Jerusalem to dedicate their child to God and to sacrifice two doves. They were met by 360-year-old Simeon who had been foretold that he would die only after seeing Jesus Christ, hence his being called Simeon the God-receiver. Along with the main personages, Anna the Prophet, the widow who devoted herself to God's service, is usually represented as a participant in this event.
The icon from St. Demetrius' Church presents all four main personages and the infant Jesus in the hands of Simeon. The background, which conventionally renders both the interior of the Temple (testified to by attributes such as ciboria) and the city of Jerusalem, makes up a great part of the composition. Its restrained pastel coloring is subordinated to the somewhat static poses of the personages and is meant to signify the period of heavenly grace around the small figure of the infant Christ; the semantic center of the work.



16. ST. GEORGE AND ST. PARASCEVE


Late 15th - early 16th century
102.5 x 67. Egg tempera on lime wood.
From the Church of SS Cosmas and Damian in the village of Korchyn Lviv region.
180k, jpeg.


The icon shows St. George as a holy warrior. According to a long-standing tradition he is usually represented as a valiant hero. This icon shows St. George as a medieval knight with a standard and a shield, attributes rare in representations of this saint in the 15th-l6th centuries. In Byzantine art he was often depicted as a Roman soldier (see No. 1).
Great Martyr Parasceve is one of the most venerated Greek saints in the Ukraine. She was executed by theRoman Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd century. Her life, often illustrated in Ukrainian hagiographic icons, was recordedin the 9th century. The name Parasceve means Friday in Greek (according to a legend she was born precisely on Friday) and in the Middle Ages it was associated with Good Friday and, consequently, with the Passion of Christ. The image of St. Parasceve organically entered Ukrainian folklore. She was considered the patron of love, marriage and fertility. Prayers to her were conducted in case of drought, animal plague and epidemics. In Kyivan Rus', St. Parasceve was also regarded to be the patron of trade, that is why churches built on market places were usually consecrated to St. Parasceve.
The icon from the village of Korchyn impresses with its elevated spirit. It is evident in the bellicose figure of St. George, whose frontal and static posture is at variance with dynamic motion of folds of his apparel and the standard. It is also evident in the bright decorativeness of the image of St. Parasceve raising high and in a solemn manner her cross of martyrdom. The lofty air of the scene is also underscored by the refined graphics of red letters of the text unusually large for an icon.

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