Russian icon | Christ ‘the Fiery Eye’

Icon: Christ ‘the Fiery Eye’ T-12

Russia, Moscow, first half 17th century (vrezka)
Tempera on wood, 37.5 x 31 cm
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This highly expressive portrait icon of Christ is a typical Russian iconographic model, known as ‘the fiery eye’. The type, which only shows the head and shoulders of Christ, undoubtedly derives from larger portraits of the Pantocrator found in dome and apse mosaics and frescos. All Russian icons of this type refer to the 13th-century portrait icon of Christ, now in the Annunciation Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin.

The stern face of Christ on this monumental icon, which originally comes from the Kremlin’s Dormition Cathedral, has inspired the image’s popular name of Jaroe Oko (fiery eye), although this is not inscribed on the icon itself. This powerful and expressive type of portrait icon of Christ became very popular in the second half of the 16th and the first half of the 17th century.