Christ enthroned

Publish date 23-01-2022

by Chiara Dal Corso

This icon reproduces the central icon of a magnificent 14th century triptych. It is an example of the iconographic work that is done today. The iconographer does not aim to express himself with his art, but puts his skills, hands, and especially prayer and heart at the service of the Lord and the Church to communicate the message of the Gospel. It is a kind of "translator" who helps the student to enter the iconographic language by retracing the path of the composition of the icon and learning from the masters of the past.

The original icon is kept in the Tretyacov Museum in Moscow, is of Balkan origin, the work of a probably Serbian author. It was found in 1920 in an old church in Krivoe, a small village in the Arhangelsk region in northern Russia, which no longer exists today.
It is part of a complex of four icons: a triptych, of which this is the central icon, and a separate icon. The triptych includes the Mother of God to the right of Jesus and St. John to his left, but the peculiarity is that this John is not the Baptist as usually in the iconostasis but John the theologian, that is the evangelist, the apostle who was under the cross of Jesus together with his Mother.
Both are represented in the exact position they have at the foot of the crucifix, which is a rare iconographic solution, which has the specific intention of uniting the "throne" of glory of Christ to the cross. There is a very strong reference to the suffering that he experienced in his flesh in the passion and crucifixion: as if looking at him we saw him not only enthroned but victorious on the cross.
And the color of the throne, dark brown, recalls the wood of the cross but covered with pearls, precious stones and gold as in the Celestial Jerusalem. In fact, the model of Christ enthroned represents Jesus in the guise of Pantocrator, King of the Universe, at the same time the Lord seated on the throne who comes to judge the world and also the merciful Lord who has come to take upon himself his sins for save the world. The color of the throne cushions also indicates this: red stands for judgment and green stands for grace.

The Lord is blessing, and with such a broad gesture of his right hand that he gives so much strength to the whole image: it is a gesture of triumph, of victory. And with the other hand he holds the book of the Word of life which is open and of which only he can open the seals. He is dressed in a blue cloak that represents his celestial nature, and a purple tunic that represents human nature. The color of the tunic is particular because it gives the impression of a bloody tunic.
Even if seated on the throne he is not in a static, relaxed position, but in motion, in action, the continuous action of the love that always gives, that always loves, and always blesses and forgives, that always acts to give life and to make live creation and all its creatures.

Chiara Dal Corso
NP October 2021

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