Chapter

Indigo and Madder, Finger Prints and Brush Strokes: Notes on Six Byzantine Great Deesis Icons of Wadi al-Natrun Monasteries and their Egyptian Origin

Maged S.A. Mikhail and Mark Moussa

in Christianity and Monasticism in Wadi al-Natrun

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9789774162602
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781617970474 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5743/cairo/9789774162602.003.0015
Indigo and Madder, Finger Prints and Brush Strokes: Notes on Six Byzantine Great Deesis Icons of Wadi al-Natrun Monasteries and their Egyptian Origin

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This chapter explores in detail some of the Byzantine icons found in Wadi al-Natrun, arguing for their Egyptian origin. Six large Deesis portraits of unknown provenance are preserved in the Coptic monasteries in the Wadi al-Natrun. Five, which are of serial nature, formed a part of a majestic Great Deesis set of 11 icons. The investigation in technical art history reconstructs the set and traces the origin of the Wadi al-Natrun icons painted in Byzantine style on locally made sycamore panels to Coptic patronage in Cairo. It specifically addresses the thirteenth-century Interceding St. John the Baptist from a Trimorphon Set and the five palaiologan serial portraits from the Great Deesis, namely Archangel Gabriel, St. Mark the Evangelist, St. Matthew, Apostle Paul, and St. John the Theologian. It then considers the reconstruction of the Great Deesis set from which the Wadi al-Natrun portraits originated. Moreover, the Church of St. Mercurios Abu Seifein in the Monastery of St. Mercurios, Old Cairo is explored.

Keywords: Wadi al-Natrun; Great Deesis; Byzantine style; Archangel Gabriel; St. Mark the Evangelist; St. Matthew; Apostle Paul; St. John the Theologian; Church of St. Mercurios Abu Seifein; Interceding St. John the Baptist

Chapter.  9042 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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