Ο Χριστός Ελκόμενος επί σταυρού : Εικονογραφία και τυπολογία της παράστασης στη βυζαντινή τέχνη (4ος αι. - 15ος αι.)Part of : Δελτίον της Χριστιανικής Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας ; Vol.37, 1997, pages 167-200
Τhe Way to Cavalry : The Iconographic Development of Representation of Christ Elkomenos in Byzantine Painting (4th cent.- 1453)
Christ Elkomenos is an episode in the Passion cycledepicting the Lord's progress from Jerusalem to Golgotha (Calvary), after his Trial and the Washing of Hands byPontius Pilate. Although several scholars, among them G.Millet and V. Kotta, have studied the iconography of therepresentation, important problems remain unresolved,since the texts, such as the four Gospels, the Apocrypha,the Triodio and the Hermeneia by Dionysios, differ intheir descriptions of the event. In the known representations from the Early Christian period until 1453, two basic iconographie types can be distinguished: 1. The routeto Golgotha, with three variants: la. Christ is led toGolgotha by soldiers, while Simon of Cyrene carries theCross, lb. Christ is led to Golgotha without the Cross andSimon, lc. Christ is led to Golgotha and carries the Cross.2. The nailing of the Cross, which is the end of the routeto Golgotha at the moment the servants set up the Cross.In the first variant (la), known from the Early Christianperiod on the Lateran sarcophagus, the doors of SantaSabina (fig. 1) and Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Simon goesahead with the Cross, while Christ walks behind freely inthe midst of Jews and soldiers. Later, at Kiliclar in Cappadocia, a Roman centurion drags the Lord from the roperound his neck. In Macedonian monuments Jesus is portrayed with his hands bound. Jews and Roman soldiersare in the rear. Frequently in Palaeologan representationsthe Theotokos with the Virgins and John participate inthe procession, while more rarely some secondary figuresare included, such as servants with the instruments of thePassion, young musicians or Pilate with his retinue (fig.3,6). These figures enliven the scene and heighten itsdramatic impact. This variant follows the descriptions inthe synoptic gospels and is the one most frequently encountered in Byzantine painting.The earliest known examples of the second variation (lb)occur in Cappadocia, where the Lord holds a furled scrolland blesses, as for example at Elmali (fig. 8). On thecontrary, in Palaeologan compositions (fig. 9, 10), as in theProtaton and Saint Nikolaos Orphanos, Christ, tied withrope round the neck and hands, is led by a soldier. Thisversion, which appears sporadically, usually remains fewfigured. The absence of the Cross and the austerity of therepresentation express a more symbolic artistic tendency,alluding to the Passion without presenting it directly.The third variation of the first type (lc), also known fromthe 4th century on ivory plaques in London, is based onthe narration in St John. It is encountered later in the miniatures of Par. Gr. 74, and sporadically in some 14thcentury monuments, such as Decani, Saint Sophia and thePeribleptos at Mystras (fig. 12), and Saint Nikolaos atCurtea de Arges. Here Christ, burdened with the Cross, isled to Calvary by soldiers and Jews. This variation, whichwas also adopted by Cretan painters (fig. 13), althoughtending towards simplicity, has a markedly dramatic character since it depicts the Passion overtly.According to the basic iconographie scheme of the second,type (2), the Cross already fixed in the ground occupies thecentre of the composition; below the horizontal bar standChrist with bound hands, the soldier holding the rope, Jewsand more rarely the Virgin with John, as in the icon inCyprus (fig. 14). Occasionally servants nail the Cross on theground, as in the miniature in the codex Iviron 5 (fig. 15).This type, which illustrates the end of the dramaticprogress and the arrival of the procession at Golgotha,appeared in the 12th century and dominated the iconography of the episode throughout the 13th. In very rare instances it occurs in late provincial monumental ensembles,mainly at Geraki, such as the Zoodochos Pigi church (fig.18). The presence of this iconcographic type in monumentsreflecting the art of Constantinople, for example Monreale,even though the type with the course was already knownand crystallized, presaged the iconographie evolution andelaboration of the Passion cycle experienced during the14th and 15th centuries. Under the title Ελκόμενος επίσταυρού, on which artists insisted in all the representations of this type (2), they combined several secondaryepisodes, such as the Way to Calvary, the Preparation ofthe Cross and the Ascent to the Cross, which were laterdepicted in as independent subjects.Christ Elkomenos, principal episode in the Passion cycle,enjoyed significant iconographie development in Byzantinepainting. Inspired by many texts simultaneously, the painterscreated a host of versions that express the artistic, spiritualand doctrinal inquiries and concepts of each period.