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The Miracle of St. Demetrius of Salonica, Martyr (Dimitri Solunski)

Central Russia

1730-1740 c.
Room 2
Tempera on wood
13,5x11 cm
1890 n. 9332

St. Demetrius, alongside the inscription identifying him, is depicted on horseback with his armour and mantel, while using a long spear to threaten the Bulgarian king Kaloyan, who plunges into an abyss alongside his white steed. This scene is based on a legend according to which Demetrius of Thessalonica, one of the most revered warrior saints of the Byzantine world who lived during the 4th century, miraculously appeared during Kaloyan’s siege of the city of Thessalonica (1207), defeating him with his spear. This iconography, similar to the even more popular iconography of St. George piercing the dragon, symbolises the defeat of evil widespread in the Byzantine world between the 13th and 14th centuries and appearing in Russian painting from the 16th century.

This work is characterised by its use of a limited colour palette, where brown tones prevail, and by a marked simplification in the rendering figure construction and modulation, outlined by thick dark borders typical of the more provincial workshops of central Russia.

Text by
Daniela Parenti
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