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Christ Pantocrator

Central Russia

1725-1750 c.
Room 2
tempera on wood
11 x 9.9 cm
1890 n. 9318

Jesus Christ is shown here in accordance with the Pantocrator iconography (omnipotent, creator and lord of the world) in the act of blessing, with his right hand, and holding an orb and cross as an emblem of his power over the creation in his left hand. An inscription identifying the subject as Christ Pantocrator is visible in the background with the spelling of the name Jesus (IИС Iisus) reflecting the style brought in by Russian church patriarch Nikon (1605-1681), promoter of ecclesiastical reforms, which were met with hostility by certain factions of believers. The position of the blessing hand is in Byzantine style with the fingers forming the letters IC XC (Jesus Christ).

This was a very common prayer icon style both in terms of the choice of subject, which was frequent in icons used for private worship - above all in the 19th century - and in its small size, which was usually used for engraved icons. It was designed for a follower of the new religious rites brought in by Patriarch Nikon.

The Pantocrator image shares many of the characteristics of the icon painted by Ivan Refusitsky in 1705 (Moscow, Novodevichy Convent Museum), such as the tunic with its belted waist, the moving and indented cloak, the orb and cross, the blessing gesture and the facial features, indicating that this latter may have been the model for the Uffizi panel.

Text by
Daniela Parenti
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