CLOSURE PANELS (THREE PARTS OF AN ICONOSTASIS)
113 x 91cm
Part of the base zone of a wood-carved iconostasis. Preserved are the colonnettes and the two horizontal sections (sills) of the closure panel, without the central board. The high relief of the carving is enhanced by sculpted elements picked out in colour, as well as by the red ground against which the subjects are projected on the two sills.
The rectangular frame is set low down on a triple stepped base of rectangular cross-section. To right and left project the two colonnettes, which rise from a semicircular base of double curvature, terminate above in a ring and are crowned by elaborate engaged Corinthianizing capitals. The surface of the colonnettes is covered by rich decoration of scrolling vine branches with wide vine leaves and juicy bunches of grapes.Represented between them, on the front of each colonnette, is a full-bodied bearded male figure in strictly frontal pose. Vested in long chiton, phelonion and epitrachelion, and holding with both hands a closed cross-inscribed Gospel codex in front on the chest, the figure recalls an officiating cleric. The horizontal wider bands on the upper and lower parts of the sill are decorated with off-white winged angel heads (putti) in the middle and ochre-coloured symmetrical undulating leafy branches on either side. The branches are embellished with identical six-petalled deep blue rosettes.
Characteristic of the panel is the combination of vegetal and anthropomorphic motifs with potent theological and liturgical symbolism. The depiction of a grape-laden vine alludes to the paralleling of Christ as Vine, while the representations of officiating priests and cherubim are appropriate to the liturgical character and lofty theological symbolism of the iconostasis as visible boundary between worldly and heavenly space within the Christian church1.
In terms of technique and style, the work combines the earlier tradition of low relief, confidently executed on the horizontal decorative bands of the closure panel, with the more innovative trends of the dense high-relief decoration of the colonnettes, which although naturalistically rendered here displays a certain lack of boldness in the carving. In this respect it echoes the artistic current of restive ‘Neohellenic Baroque’, which dominated in ecclesiastical woodcarving from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century 2. On the other hand, the rather clumsy treatment and the simplistic character of the putti and the hieratic figures recall works of folk stone-carving of the nineteenth century. At the same time, the harmonious application of colour on the sculptural decoration and the ground adds charm and vitality to the whole. All the above traits advocate the attribution of the work to a competent craftsman, both familiar with tradition and informed of the aesthetic trends and demands of his age, who was living and working in a period of transition from the Post-Byzantine world to Modern Greek society of the nineteenth century, to which this work could be dated.
1 S. Gerstel (ed.), Thresholds of the Sacred: Art Historical, Archeological, Liturgical and Theological Views on Religious Screens East and West, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington D.C. 2006. Τζ. Αλμπάνη, Ανάγοντας το αθέατο σε θεατό. Οι φορητές εικόνες των βυζαντινών τέμπλων, Τέμπλον. Άγιες Μορφές, Αόρατες Πύλες Πίστης, Χ. Φ. Μαργαρίτης (ed.), Ίδρυμα Αικατερίνης Λασκαρίδη, Athens 2017, 57-59.
2 Κ. Α. Μακρής, Εκκλησιαστικά ξυλόγλυπτα, Athens 1982, 10-15. Ε. Τσαπαρλής, Το ξυλόγλυπτο τέμπλο στην Ήπειρο κατά το β΄ μισό του 18ου αιώνα, Αντίφωνον. Αφιέρωμα στον καθηγητή Ν. Β. Δρανδάκη, Θεσσαλονίκη 1994, 80-82. Ν. Νικονάνος, Τα ξυλόγλυπτα του Αγίου Όρους, Θησαυροί του Αγίου Όρους, Θεσσαλονίκη 19972, 293-294. Τ. Απ. Σιούλης, Ο ξυλόγλυπτος διάκοσμος των εκκλησιών στην Ήπειρο. Μεταβυζαντινή περίοδος, Ioannina 2008, 121, 165-168.
96.5 x 93 cm and
106 x 89.5 cm
Two wood-carved rectangular parts, of more or less the same dimensions, from the lower zone of an iconostasis. Works in mixed technique, with both sculpted and painted decoration, there form follows that of corresponding stone templon-screens. Both wood-carved parts are set on a stepped base, terminate in a flat crowning course, also stepped, and are separated by a horizontal band into two unequal zones, the lower of which is wider. Pairs of mullions, of rectangular cross-section, define the interstices of the sill. On the front of them is a canistrum from which issues a leafy branch with pale blue flowers. An analogous motif, broader and in horizontal arrangement, is repeated also along the entire length of the upper narrower zone, at the centre of which, is an ellipsoidal reddish medallion, inscribed in which is a golden yellow rosette. The middle part of the sill is occupied by a rectangular plank, the closure panel with wood-carved frame which is decorated with the same branch with scrolling leaves and flowers. The panel at the centre is decorated with a painted reddish cross with rounded arms.
The two wood–carved closure panels, with their very low relief and the austerity of the iconographic motifs, follow in terms of technique and kind of decoration trends typical of the seventeenth century –that is, before the establishment of Baroque1. However, the rough rendering of the subjects in a more folk vein and the limited palette suggest a later date, probably in the nineteenth century.
1 Π. Δ. Ευγενικός, Τα ξυλόγλυπτα τέμπλα του 17ου αι. από την περιοχή του Πηλίου, unpublished postgraduate dissertation, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki 2007.