Project Description


See the Book


27.9 x 37.7 X 2 cm

18th century

Christ lies on a rose-coloured marble sarcophagus, while the Virgin sits at his left, holding his head in her embrace. Left, a woman with mournful
countenance stands behind the Virgin. At the centre, in front of the large Cross, John stoops to grasp the hand of the lifeless Christ and Mary
Magdalene grieves with both hands raised heavenwards. Right, Joseph bends over and prepares to wind the deceased in the shroud, while behind him Nicodemus holds the ladder. Below the arms of the Cross, two angels hold the symbols of the Passion, the lance, the sponge and the three nails. The scene takes place before an elaborate landscape of brown and blue hills, amidst which are the monochrome buildings of the city, across its whole extent. On the gold ground in red capital letters, the inscription: O EΠΙΤΑΦΙΟC ΘΡΙΝΟC. Bottom left, in black capitals: XEIP ΔHMHTPIOY NOMIKOY (Hand of Demetrios Nomikos). The icon reproduces an iconographic type known from earlier works of Byzantine origin, such as the early fifteenth-century icon in Sinai.1 In both icons the pose and position of the principal figures in the composition are the same; the Virgin sits at Christ’s head, John bends and holds his hand, and Joseph, likewise bending over, holds his feet. The position of Mary Magdalene differs; she stands at the left side in the Sinai icon, where the woman stands behind the Virgin in ours. The Byzantine prototype of Mary Magdalene with raised arms, standing at the centre behind Christ and in front of the Cross, is encountered in the wall-paintings in the Refectory of Patmos, around 1200, as well as in a codex of 1322-1340, in Oxford.2 The affinity with these Byzantine models extends to the depiction of the scene in front of the Cross, which stands within a rocky landscape before the walls of Jerusalem. An analogous arrangement is observed in later icons, with Mary Madgalene, hands raised, standing at the centre in front of the Cross, as in a late eighteenth-century icon in a popular style, in the Ekonomopoulos Collection.3
Our icon has stylistic traits in common with the Dormition of the Virgin, bearing the forged signature of Kouloumbis, Cat. no. 55. There is the same preference for varied colouring, simple drawing and pronounced outlines; the faces are rendered in the same manner, with the same features and heavy eyelids; a similar type of miniature depiction of the monochrome buildings in the background is ascertained. The signature of Demetrios Nomikos appears on a few icons of miniature character in a different style from that of our icon.4 In all probability the signature here is forged, just like the signature of Kouloumbis on the icon of the Dormition Cat. no. 55 (Fig. 243). The development of the landscape of rolling hills in the background of both works frequently appears in icons of the Dormition of the Virgin, in Zakynthos and Cephalonia.5 In the light of the above, both the Velimezis icons must come from the same island.

CONDITION Very good. No previous cleaning.

PROVENANCE Zakynthos (?)


1. Sinai 1990, 202, fig. 75 (N. Drandakis).
2. Spatharakis 1995, figs 6, 9.
3. Baltoyanni 1986, no. 169, 97, pl. 167.
4. Icon with scenes of the Dodecaorton, 1607, and icon of the Relic of Saint Spyridon, in the Loverdos Collection in the Byzantine Museum (Papayannopoulos-Palaios 1946, no. 305, 48 and no. 560, 74). For the painter see Xyngopoulos 1956, 323ff.
5. See further examples and bibliography Cat. no. 55, 388-390.

The Lamentation.

Egg tempera on wood. 18th c.

27.5 x 37.7 x 2 cm

(donation no. 56)

Nano Chatzidakis, Icons. The Velimezis Collection, publication of the Benaki Museum, Athens 1997, cat. no. 56, page 392.