#069 Jesus Christ Pantocrator
Size: 14.5 x 18 cm, 5.7x7.1"
It may be said that all icons of the Virgin Mary and child Jesus are a restatement of St. Luke's original Theotokos paintings. This may not be as true for the Christ Pantocrator icon. As it turns out, early representations of Christ most often omitted both His beard and halo, both of which are apparent in the Christ Pantocrator icon.
A halo was added as the result of early Byzantine artistic development, in part to accommodate pagan belief in the power of the sun (e.g., some early Christian representations show Christ also as the sun-God).
Under eastern influence, a beard became more standard, and an example can be seen in the Byzantine mosaic in St. Pudensiana, Rome at the end of the 4th century; (Christ also has a halo in this mosaic); however, the lack of a beard can still be seen in some 5th century works*.
Hence, the Christ Pantocrator type icon, as described in the next paragraph, originated more as an early Byzantine form. And this icon became the most typically used in the high, main dome in the church then and for centuries to come. Pantocrator is the most popular icon of Christ, and it is standard in an icon screen.
In Christ Pantocrator icons, Christ is facing directly frontally holding the Gospel or Book of Judgment in His left hand with raised right hand in blessing of the viewer, typically with a positioning of the fingers according to iconographic standards. Christ typically has a beard and halo with three "WHO" (or equivalent) symbols.
Christ typically is painted with riveting eyes staring straight at the viewer, although later portrayals (in the past 200 years) sometimes show Christ's eye slightly averted. The Gospel Book is often closed, but later depictions often show an open book in the local language with specific words being a matter of choice. The book is sometimes circular rather than square.
* "Larousse Encyclopedia of Byzantine and Medieval Art". Rene Huyghe (Ed.), New York: Hamylyn, 1958.
ABA Cuprum offers Christ Pantocrator icons with hand-painted face and hands plus aureole/halo area and highlights in 24K gold gilt.
The Pantocrator icons can be ordered in three different painting styles corresponding to historical periods:
- Byzantine - Based on one the oldest surviving icon paintings, the 6th century portrayal of Christ at St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai Peninsula.
- Middle Russian - 14th or 15th century style noted for the separated strands of hair.
- Late Russian-Italian - Some Russian icons in the late 19th or early 20th century were decidedly influenced by Italian Romantic schools of painting.