Project Description


See the Book


Drawing. Charcoal and mauve gouache
56.5 x 42 cm.
Early 19th century
Handmade paper

The drawing comprises two pieces of handmade paper of the same size, sewn together along the horizontal axis, attixed to later paper and card. Losses and damage around the edge are observed, while Y preserved on the back is an orange-coloured strip for affixing in position.

Christ Great High Priest sits on a cylindrical cushion upon a throne. He wears prelatic vestments and mitre, and holds a sceptre and an orb. Inscribed on the left on the imposing throne are two apocalyptic animal attributes of the Evangelists, the lion and the eagle.

The unfinished representation reproduces the composite type of Christ Great High Priest enthroned as in another drawing in the Collection,1 which is encountered frequently in Cretan and Ionian Island works from the seventeenth century onward.2 The drawing deviates from these, since Christ holds and sceptre and orb (globus) instead of blessing and holding a gospel book, insignia that do not belong to the established iconography of the Pantocrator but rather allude to the secular authority of the Byzantine emperor.3 In Post-Byzantine times the orb is incorporated in the representation of the anthropomorphic Holy Trinity,4 and later in Neo-Russian representations of the Pantocrator.5 It was then adopted by Epirot painters, as indicated by two icons painted by Anastasios from Chioniades, in the church of the Saviour at Ano Pedina (1884).6

The drawing harmoniously combines elements from different iconographic types and traditions, in a single representation that follows a model as yet unknown. The rare combination of Christ enthroned as ‘Great High Priest’ and as ‘King of Kings’, is identified in a despotic icon which decorates the iconostasis of the small church of Saint Menas at Pirsogianni of Ioannina and is signed by the painters Matthaios and his son Apostolos from Chioniades (1872).7

Stylistically the off-centre composition displays ineptness in the rendering of volumes and awkwardness in the organic unity of the figure and the throne. Nevertheless, the brisk drawing of the details is painterly, while the faint line is distinguished by its plasticity. There are parallels for the portrait type of Christ in works from northern Greece.8 The careful seam in the handmade paper and the originality of the composition advocate the attribution of the drawing to a painter of the early nineteenth century, familiar with the artistic production of the Ionian Islands.

1 See no.2 in the present catalogue (M. Nanou).
2 Mystery Great and Wondrous 2002, nos 73 (Z. Mylona), 77 (Z. Mylona), 78 (D. Kalomoirakis), Acheimastou-Potamianou 1998a, no. 58.
3 Γκιόλες  2002, 74.
4 For related examples see no. 22 (A. Katselaki) in the present catalogue.
5  Les icοnes 1985, no. 49.
6 Unpublished.
7 Unpublished.
8 Eκ Χιονιάδων 2004, nos 89 (N. Toutos), 99 (M. Nanou).

Christ Great High Priest.

Drawing, charcoal and mauve gouache, handmade paper. Early 19th c.

56.5 x 42 cm

(donation no. 79)

A. Katselaki-M. Nanou, Anthivola. Τhe Holy Cartoons from Chionades, The Makris-Margaritis Collection, publication of the Museum of Greek Folk Art, Athens 2009, cat. no. 3, page 389.