Mosaic Pantocrator (Agia Sophia) – J30


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Mosaic, Pantocrator


Hagia Sophia, Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey


13th c. (Late)


Possibly the greatest icon of the late Paleologian Period, which began after the Restoration of the Byzantine Empire at Constantinople with the victory of Michael VIII Paleologus (1261-1282) that ended the Latin occupation.  It was finished around 1280.  Set in a background of gold mosaic tiles which almost shimmer, the figures of the Deisis or supplicating icon (which overall includes an icon of the Virgin and St. John the Forerunner) are made in fine tessera of mosaic tile of soft hues.  It is set in the west side of the southern gallery of the Catachumena in the Great Church of Hagia Sophia, or Holy Wisdom, the architectural wonder finished under the Emperor Justinian in a.d. 585.   This was the largest building in the world for over a thousand years, and considered one of the great wonders of the world.

This last great artistic outpouring in Byzantium included both the highest aesthetic standards and classical trends raised to new heights.  Thus the “Ruler of All” or “Pantocrator” beckons us to seek His Kingdom first, beyond the beauty of this material world, no matter how beautiful that art or beauty may be.