Thursday 16 February 2006

Essential ikons for theologians

Chris Tessone has a great interest in iconography, and I asked him to come up with a list of essential ikons. So here Chris offers his list of the top 10 (primarily Eastern Orthodox) ikons. For a more detailed version of this list, see the full post at Even the Devils Believe.

1. Christ Pantokrator—this stern Christ is a major archetypal ikon. There are many famous Christs Pantokrator, but this small one held by the monks of Mt Athos is one of my favourites.

2. A fascinating contemporary ikon is that of St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane from the website of St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church in San Francisco.

3. I myself am not fond of highly ornamented ikons. However, among such representations, the Theotokos Nikopoios is one of the most ornamented, with gold and precious stones.

4. The Theotokos Hodegetria, also located on Athos, is a striking representation of the Virgin and the child Jesus.

5. The Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow is a treasure trove of incredible ikons and should not be missed. One of the most famous is the 12th-century Spas Nerukotvornyj, or "Salvation Made Without Hands," originally from the Cathedral of the Assumption inside the Moscow Kremlin.

6. Iconography is not a dead art, so I would be remiss if I didn't offer one or two contemporary ikons in the traditional style: one of my favourite ikons of the Theotokos is this one by Italian iconographer Maria Mirea.

7. This St. Nikolas ikon is an example of contemporary Slovak iconography—it is from the Byzantine Catholic Church of Bratislava.

8. Now for a trio of great Russian ikons. First, Christ the Redeemer of Andrei Rublev: tt is a breathtaking image, which immediately comes to mind when I think of the word "ikon."

9. The Bogomater Vladimirskaja (Mother of God of Vladimir) is certainly one of the greatest ikons held in Russia, and many Bogomater ikons are based on it.

10. Also held in Moscow's Tretiakov Gallery, the Trinity ikon of Andrei Rublev, considered by many to be the greatest Russian ikon in history, or even the greatest work of art in history. I had the great fortune of seeing it up close and personal in the Tretiakov—it is an experience one does not forget.


Anonymous said...

Exquisite, Chris.

Timbo said...

Interesting! I just wrote a reflection based on 'The Trinity' (with a little help from Moltmann admittedly!) You can read it at my church's blog - I've always been a big fan of ikonography, and I deeply appreciated some of the things Vanhoozer had to say about them in relation to hermeneutics in his text 'Is there a meaning in this text?'


Ben Myers said...

Thanks for such a beautiful list, Chris. And I thought Rublev's "Trinity" was a very fitting climax to the whole list!

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