Project Description


See the Book


Drawing, pencil and sepia gouache
89.5 x 64.7 cm
19th century
Handmade paper

The slightly damaged drawing comprises tour pieces of paper, of the same size, glued together.

The Virgin, in bust and in the type of the Hodegetria, holds the Christ-Child comfortably in her left hand, while with her right hand in a pose of intercession (deesis) she transfers the supplications of the faithful to her Son, towards whom she bows her head. Christ, his body upright, blesses and holds an open blank scroll. He wears a himation and a chiton draped in deep folds, picked out in brownish red.

The iconographic type of the Virgin holding the Christ-Child on the left is a variation of the Hodegetria, which is frequently accompanied by the epithet Eleousa (Merciful) and is characterized by the reciprocal poses of the figures, with the convergence of the heads.1 Crystallized in Byzantine times,2 it enjoyed wide diffusion in Post- Byzantine icons.3 However, in this drawing Christ does not turn to- wards the Virgin, while rare too is the detail of the open scroll. A distant model is identified in a fifteenth-century Cretan icon.4 Later, this particular element occurs in diverse types of the Virgin, such as the icon of the Mother of God enthroned, in the Velimezis Collection (early 16th century).5

The portrait features of the Virgin, with the plump face, are en- countered already in fifteenth-century works, in which Palaiologan types are harmoniously blended with a predilection for Western influences in the style, as in the icon by Nikolaos Lampoudis, in a private collection (15th century).6 In later years similar traits are often observed in Athonite engravings7 and in despotic icons throughout the Greek Mainland. Cited indicatively are the icon by Asterios from Kalarita, loannina in the monastery of the Holy Ascension (Agia Analipsis) at Elassona (1778)8 and the drawing of the Virgin Portaitissa in the Benaki Museum, which is associated with the art of Athanasios from Galatista (19th century).9 This type enjoyed wide diffusion mostly in notable despotic icons in church- es and monasteries of Epirus, characteristic examples being the two icons with the Virgin and Child, the first in St Nicholas at Kipoi and the second in St George at Negades.10

The large dimensions of the drawing, in conjunction with the subject, point to an Athonite print as a possible model and dictate its use for producing despotic icons. The corpulent figures with sweetish expression ascribe the drawing to a nineteenth-century painter who renders with facility iconographic types of Byzantine tradition with a Westernizing disposition.

A. Katselaki

1 Βοκοτόπουλος 1990, 14.
2 Βοκοτόπουλος 1990, 13.
3 Βοκοτόπουλος 1990, no.6 Χατζηδάκης-Δρακοπούλου 1997, 326, fig. 230.
4 Καλαφάτη 1994, 158-162
5 N. Chatzidakis 1998, no. 11.
6 Αχειμάστου-Παταμιάνου 1993-1994, 259-270.
7 Papastratos 1990, vol. I, nos 109-121.
8 Πασαλή 2003, 343, fig. 191.
9 Κειμήλια Πρωτάτου 2006, no. 87 (P. Benetatou).
10 Unpublished.

The Virgin Hodegetria.

Drawing, pencil and sepia gouache, handmade paper. Early 19th c.

89.5 x 64.7 cm

(donation no. 80 )

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. 19, page 405.