Icon of the Pantocrator (Theophanes) – J95


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Pantocrator Monastery, Mt. Athos, Greece


16th c. (Mid)


Theophanes the Cretan


The most famous iconographer of the Cretan School of iconography is Theophanes the Cretan, who painted many icons on the monastic peninsula of Mount Athos in the mid-16th century.  Pantocrator Monastery, where this icon is featured on the main iconostasis or icon altar screen, is one of the twenty ruling monasteries established with royal charters from the Byzantine emperors. These rulers were the direct inheritors of the East Roman Empire and its Classic civilization that had been baptized by the Church.

Since the Fall of Constantinople to the Moslems in a.d. 1453, and in the previous enslavement of most of the Balkan lands sixty years before then, the Orthodox Christian practice of worship was seriously suppressed by their overlords.  The center of iconography then moved to where it could be practiced more freely, especially to Crete.  From that time many masters of iconography were nurtured in Crete and its school attained much prominence.  This superb icon of Christ is radiant and was completed between 1535-1546 and shows the more naturalistic influence of the West in Theophanes’ innovative and distinctive somewhat blended style.