Russian icon | Transfiguration on Mount Thabor

Icon: Transfiguration on Mount Thabor B-19

Origin :
Northern Russia
Period :
circa 1700
Size :
68.8 x 57.7 cm
Provenance :
Private Collection, The Netherlands
Published :
De Zoon, Christus op Ikonen, B. Velthuis (ed.), De Wijenburgh, Echteld, 1980, p. 102, illustration 63

Christ, in frontal pose, is wearing a bright white robe. He appears against a blue nimbus on top of a steep mountain and makes a blessing gesture with his right hand. The prophets Moses and Elijah are standing to the left and to the right side. Moses is holding the stone tablets in his left hand and Elijah turns to Christ in prayer, both hands raised. At the foot of the mountain the three apostles Peter, John, and James have fallen down. Their attitudes and gestures express fear and anxiety. Peter is already back on his knees and is the only one who looks up at Christ, raising his right hand. 

In the first half of the 14th century, the Archbishop of Thessaloniki, Gregory Palamas, and the monk Varlaam, passionately debated the nature of the ‘divine light’ as it had appeared on Mount Tabor. According to Gregory Palamas, it was possible to partake of Christ’s Glory through the divine light. His mystical writings helped to determine the iconographic interpretation of this theme as is featured on the present icon.

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