Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Life Is Good ... Life Is Elsewhere ... Goodness Will Triumph

[Click on images for enlargements.]


14th century C.E.
67 x 69. Egg tempera on lime wood.
From the Church of SS Joachim and Anna in the village of Stanylya, Lviv region. Lviv National Museum.

"Along with his image as holy warrior and martyr, in the 12th century there appeared an image of St. George the Dragon-Slayer that become widely popular in medieval art. St. George (or St. Yur, as he was often called in Ukraine) was a favorite folk hero. In folk consciousness he was the patron of farmers and cattle breeders, and beasts obeyed him.

The icon reproduced here is one of the earliest representations of this theme in Ukrainian painting. It is said to come from St. Yur's Church in Drohobych, one of the oldest wooden churches in the Ukraine. The icon is the embodiment of simplicity. Its composition has no minor details, everything being subordinated to the representation on combat in which St.Yur is the main hero and victor. The graceful and energetic rider in knightly attire strikes the dragon with his spear. His cannabarine cloak contrasts with the black horse treated conventionally and flatly which looks like a heraldic symbol. The combat of St. George with the dragon is interpreted as the triumph of Christianity over paganism, the triumph of justice over falsehood. The black color of the horse is rare though not unique for this subject, emphasizing the decorativeness of the icon and its dramatic nature."



15th century C.E.
91.5 x 77.5. Egg tempera on lime wood
From St. Demetrius' Church in the village of Krasiv, Lviv region. Lviv National Museum.

"The icon presents a classical type of the Virgin Odegetria. Its originality lies in the representation of half-figures of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, which enhance the solemn character of the image and impart to it the meaning of Majesty. It is one of the first Ukrainian icons which rendered a highly lyrical image of Mary as Odegetria, somewhat unusual for the Directress. She possesses a special maidenly beauty, charming in its refinement. Her head is covered with a dark-red maphorion, her neck is long and her adoring eyes seem to be full of sadness. The entire image of the Virgin is permeated with an unending sense of desolation, as, with a delicate gesture at her right hand, she points to the Child who is under an imminent death penalty. The image of Mary admirably comprises Hellenic and Byzantine features. Little Christ is shown as a sage who gives a blessing with His right hand while in the left He holds a Gospel scroll. He is concentrated and restrained, as though having a foreboding of His future sufferings.

This icon belonging to the Lviv painting school served as a pattern for numerous works of the same type executed in Lviv Region in the mid-l6th century."


Image and caption credits: (c) Andrii Borovets's Icon Gallery Pages, Lviv, Ukraine, Future European Union. Copyright controlled. With thanks.


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