Monday, December 20, 2010

Three Icons of Christ: Unity and Diversity

There is perhaps a tendency to think of iconography as being utterly uniform, and, of course, it is true that there is a certain kind of uniformity to it; a uniformity rooted in the iconographic canons. This said, I am also struck by the stylistic trends which can be evidenced within the iconographic tradition; trends which can identify which region/school an icon has come from, or even -- at times -- who the particular iconographer was.

Now I am not here only thinking of the dramatic difference between, for example, Coptic icons and those of the Byzantine tradition, nor of course of the rather Westernized work which can be found in Russia in the 19th century, but rather I am thinking within the Byzantine iconographic tradition itself for instance.

I thought of this recently because I was struck by both the similarity and the differences in the following three details from icons of Christ by three different iconographers of the Byzantine tradition. Each are beautiful and striking in their own way.

Aidan Hart

Leonid Ouspensky

Andrei Rublev

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