Icon of the Theotokos with St. Theodore & St. George (6th Century) – T71


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Encaustic, Enthroned


St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai, Egypt


6th c.


The Mother of God is enthroned in the center of this famous icon, holding her Divine Son.    Beside her, as if guarding her with honor, are the soldiers Saints Theodore (on the left) and George (on the right).  Both St. Theodore and St. George are holding crosses, a common iconographic convention to show that they are Martyrs for the Faith.  St. George is shown without a beard to depict his young age, another convention.  Behind them are two angels dressed in white looking up at the hand of God.

The coloring of the faces is significant here, as the head of the more regal Virgin has olive-color shadings while the faces of Saints Theodore and George are much more realistic (one is shown sunburned and the other is shown pale) to remind us more graphically of their humanity.  The faces of the angels, however, are made in a more impressionistic manner.  This icon is one of the great masterpieces of Byzantine art from Mount Sinai, done in the  encaustic technique in the second half of the sixth century, probably in Constantinople.  It was likely given to the Monastery of St. Catherine as an imperial gift.