Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Princeton Project: Images of Icons of Mt Sinai Available Online

Thanks to Christine Schlesser, the Director of the Trinity Iconography Institute, for bringing the following to my notice. Princeton University has a catalog of images of icons from Mt Sinai which was obtained from expeditions made to the monastery in the 1950s and 1960s. The images have been recently upgraded, and the collection is available online. As Christine wrote:
Princeton University just updated a website on the expedition of the late 1950s/early 1960s to St Catherine’s Monastery at Mt. Sinai, where there is a repository of the world’s oldest icons. This collection is unique in that it documents, in color and condition, all of the monastery’s icons after cleaning and restoration in the 1950s and 1960s. These photos have not been digitally altered, except for cropping and rotating. Princeton’s Visual Resource Center digitized and catalogued the collection of several thousand color images (5 × 7 inch color Ektachrome transparencies and 35mm slides) of icons in the Monastery of Saint Catherine made by the joint expeditions.
The images are available for free for non-commercial and educational purposes, and permission may be granted for other purposes.

To browse the collection follow the link here.

“Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” The Sinai Icon Collection, http://vrc.princeton.edu/sinai/items/show/7216.
When I was searching through the collection, this one caught my eye. The only information I have about it is in the citation. The draughtsmanship is exquisite; I am thinking here especially of the delicate flowing lines that describe the head and facial features. This is something that should be studied by those wishing to learn iconography; the manner in which it conforms to the stylistic prototype makes the figures anatomically sound. If you look at the length of the forearm, for example, there is a foreshortening effect caused by the fact that the elbows of the patriarchs are tucked into their hips, and are some way behind the hands.

I encourage people to explore this treasury of images.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: