The Saviour Enthroned in Glory
Moscow 16th century, one hand raised in blessing, the other supporting an open Gospel with the text Come, Blessed of my Father, for whom the Kingdom has been prepared..., Christs feet rest on Cherubim, represented as flaming, winged, circular discs set with eyes, the throne and the encircling Seraphim executed en grisaille, encompassed within two concentric oval mandorlas of emerald green; these are intersected by two fiery red prisms in the shape of curved rectangles, so that together they compose an eight pointed star, with the symbols of the Evangelists at the four corners, (the angel for Matthew, the eagle for Mark, the lion for John and the bull for Luke).These geometric formations can be interpreted as symbols of heaven and earth, linked together with Christ as axis of the world. The theme is based on the apocalyptic visions of John in the Revelations (IV, ii-iii and vi-ix). And lo a throne stood in heaven with one seated on the throne, and he who sat there appeared like jasper and carnelian, and round the throne there was a rainbow that looked like an emerald. A paralel to this theme may be found in the Prophet Ezekiel, (Old Testament precursor of John the Divine). See Ezekiels vison by the river Chebar (Ezekiel I, iv-xxviii). The theme was developed in the Latin west by Carolingian artists, becoming a regular feature for the tympana over Cathdral doors. The earliest East Christian example is on a panel icon from Sinai (see K. Weitzmann, The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai, The Icons, Princeton 1976, cat. b.16). In Russia, the first known representation of this theme is the late 14th century panel attributed to Theophan the Greek, now in the Annunciation Cathdral of the Moscow Kremlin. It is quite possible that this form of the composition owes its origin to him. Andrei Rublyov precisely adhered to this model when he came to paint the Icon screen for the Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir in 1408 (now in the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow) and the screen of the Trinity-Sergei Lavra (1425-27) (see V. Lazarev Andrei Rubliov and his School, Moscow 1966, plates 166 and 199a). From the time of Rublyov, the composition became canonical for the Russian icon screen. Compare, for example, with the Christ in Glory painted by Dionisy for the Paul Obmorsky monastery, and now in the Tretyakov gallery, see Catalogue , Moscow 1963 pi. 215. The offered example takes its place within this classsical Muscovite tradition. See Petsopoulos (ed.) East Christian Art, number 93.