Εικόνες - ναυτικά αφιερώματα με αφορμή μια εικόνα του Ιωάννη του ΘεολόγουPart of : Αρχαιολογικόν δελτίον ; Vol.42, 1987, pages 152-168
Nautical ex-voto icons : a study based on an icon of Ioannes Theologos
There is an icon of Saint Ioannes Theologos in the collection of the 4th Ephoreia of Byzantine Antiquities in Rode, which prompted us to undertake a preliminary examination of the material and of the problems posed by a whole group of post-Byzantine ex-voto marins icons.Ioannes Theologos in the upper, larger, panel of the icon is depicted enthroned, after the author- evangelist type; below, in a narrow zone, is a three-masted ship. The iconography suggests that it was an ex-voto dedicated by a sailor, probably from Patmos, to the island’s patron saint. Stylistically the icon has links with the Aegean Island workshops located close to the shores of Asia Minor, and it dates to the first decades of the 18th century.Notionally and iconographically it belongs to a broad group of ex-voto icons dedicated by sailors, merchants and sea-voyagers as supplications, invocations or thank offerings for the protection of their ships and their own persons. These icons, which come from the Ionian Islands, Cyclades and Dodecanese, first appear in the second half of the 16th c. and became established in the island world in the 17th and 18th centuries, a fact that is connected with the growth of the Greek merchant fleet and the rise of a strong Christian commercial bourgeoisie.These icons are divided typologically into three categories: those whose principal subject is a nautical episode in which the holy person is depicted among clouds, the two-panel icons in which the holy person or persons and the nautical episode are painted in two separate panels, and the icons in which the principal subject is the holy person, while the ship is painted on a small dimension in the background. This typological classification of the icons does not correspond to their chronological developement, for all three categories appear contemporaneously and coexist throughout the period of their production.Their iconography is particularly interesting, combining elements of traditional religious painting in the depiction of the holy persons, with the introduction of secular elements in the iconography of their narrative content. This phenomenon is connected with the gradual urbanization of the donors and the new artistic trends of the numerous painters that flourished in this period.Furthermore, these ex-voto icons, possessing a general religious character, provide important evidence of the popular religiosity of the time as well as proofs of the miraculous power of both the patron saints and the holy icons.
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