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Author Topic: Weigh in on this....
daniel
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Tom- The other day when I google "visitation icon" I saw three; today there are only two; the one by the lady from eikona studios, which began this discussion, and another, which is not credited but may be the Cretan one you mention...

Personally, I would not be inclined to include the unborn Saviour and Forerunner if I did the Visitation. However, I would be slower to say it is wrong, based upon the rationale cited.

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daniel

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Tom
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Dan....except for that Cyprus wall icon and an Anunciation panel, I don't see much else out there. Do you have links to something else you may have found? I am still wanting to think that these are falling inot the visceral display category and thats why they may have not have been reproduced by iconographers over the years.

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Tom

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Jill
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John, only one of the images on the site you linked to is remotely ancient, and all these images were referred to on the Monachos forum thread. The ArchAngel Institute is concerned with opposing abortion (worthy and admirable in itself), and is using the medium of iconography to promote its views. Again, this is a misuse of iconography (intentional or otherwise, I cannot tell) to promote a sociopolitical cause.

The appropriation of iconography as sacred art has become increasingly popular in recent years among non-Orthodox Christians, however, without a thorough understanding of what iconography is, and what it is not, such mistakes can be made. Mind you, there are many well-meaning Orthodox who are just as capable of making the same mistakes, such as those who produced the Antiochian pamphlet Tom referred to in the opening post. Iconography is the most distinctive and visible feature of Orthodoxy, yet, sadly, all too often, it is the least well-understood, by Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike.

I say again that the historic portrayal of an embryonic or otherwise unborn Christ or St John the Baptist is extremely rare, and has little basis in the liturgical and iconographic traditions of the Orthodox Church. There is certainly no justification whatsoever in using icons to promote any sort of "agenda", no matter how honourable.

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John_Curran
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A googe image search of the words Visitation icon will provide numerous examples; one of the first to come up is at:

http://www.archangelinstitute.org/2007/12/

There are 3 or 4 interesting icons which seem appropriate to the discussion.

There is a link to 'technique' on this page also, which is a bit different...

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Jill
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quote:
Originally posted by daniel:
And as one could say that a central action in the Visitation is the child John leaping in the womb, could this not be a justification for the portrayal?
Also, googling images of the Visitation I see three that have the children visible, and both appear ancient.

Could you provide links to these images, Daniel?
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daniel
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And as one could say that a central action in the Visitation is the child John leaping in the womb, could this not be a justification for the portrayal?
Also, googling images of the Visitation I see three that have the children visible, and both appear ancient.

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daniel

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John_Curran
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Jill wrote: "As I mentioned before, the icon of the Ustiug Annunciation which shows an unborn Christ appears to be the only historic example of this sort of portrayal. The otherwise absence of an "unborn Christ" in Annunciation icons over so many centuries, and over the whole Orthodox world, cannot be an accident."

Perhaps we need only the one example; maybe that icon's continued existance is not by accident.

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Jill
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quote:
Originally posted by daniel:
I concur that there are few historical instances of the unborn Christ in the Annunciation icons, I do not concur that the locus of Christ in the Mother of God of the Sign icon is irrelevant; isn't the point of icon the mystery of the Virgin carrying the Uncreated Lord within her womb?

The point is, Daniel, that Christ Emmanuel in the Of the Sign icons does not represent the unborn Christ per se, but the fact and teaching that Christ became incarnate and was carried and born of the Virgin. The Child is always shown fully formed, and fully clothed. A fine distinction, but one which needs to be made.
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daniel
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While I can see the appeal of the decorative in iconography (think the Stroganov school), and of most of the Kovcheg icons, the one of St Czar Nicholas, rendered like a western portrait with only a linear circle for the halo is too much.

I concur that there are few historical instances of the unborn Christ in the Annunciation icons, I do not concur that the locus of Christ in the Mother of God of the Sign icon is irrelevant; isn't the point of icon the mystery of the Virgin carrying the Uncreated Lord within her womb?

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daniel

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Tom
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John..reading about it and living it are very different. There are few here in the states that use water gilding which acocunts for the clarity and solid look of the gold. And there is little discipline here to study and do work like this. Jill is right ...sublime. You just don't get that much here in the States.

Jill...you are right. Belovs studio is a bit of a factory. They have 2 people that only apply gold and decorate it. One guy that may specialize in hands or eyes. And they are are over the top for design but that's what I expect from Russia! I am sure if I knew this much I would be able to do anything I wanted! Poor me indeed!

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Tom

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Jill
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quote:
and this lady's site makes me want to give up painting altogether, beg forgivness and hide:
Poor Tom! Maria Elizabeta Bonef is a prime example of present-day Romanian iconographers. Her technical ability is superb, but, even more importantly, she knows very well how to convey stillness, gravitas, humility and holiness in her icons. Her St Silouan of Athos is simply sublime in its spiritual beauty. By contrast, many of the icons on the kovcheg site, while masterfully executed, are stuffed full of often purely decorative details, so that the clarity of the composition suffers.

quote:
But when you have ancient examples, and the example of Mother of God of the Sign, where the Child is shown in a mandorla within the womb, well, it is not so clear is it?

quote:
As we have ancient icons showing Christ within the womb of the Virgin I don't see the logic of arguing against it... As usual, we probably have another example where well-meaning iconographers can disagree and there is no clear prohibition.

Daniel, icons of the Sign show the incarnate Christ as He was revealed to us, as the all-knowing, divine Child. There is nothing in Orthodox doctrine or tradition (iconographic or liturgical) which suggests Emmanuel in a mandorla over His mother's body represents Him in His unborn state. As I mentioned before, the icon of the Ustiug Annunciation which shows an unborn Christ appears to be the only historic example of this sort of portrayal. The otherwise absence of an "unborn Christ" in Annunciation icons over so many centuries, and over the whole Orthodox world, cannot be an accident.

quote:
Jill, I can recall seeing a number of icons showing the unborn Christ and the Mother of God, perhaps the difference is the definition of ancient?

John, are you referring to icons of the Mother of God of the Sign, or to other compositions? Could you provide links or names of such icons?

quote:
Too bad there is not a way to know why the image is so rare. Why did it not become more popular? Was there some theologizing agaist it? Or was it still an aberration of some sort?
Your comment, Tom, on the Orthodox shying away from portraying visceral aspects is close to the mark, as even when a saint's or Christ's suffering is portrayed, it is done so in a dispassionate manner.

When all else fails look at the liturgical tradition. I have lost count of the number of times the reason for a detail in an icon's composition has made sense is when I have heard (or read) something in the Vigil service. Here is the exaposteilarion of the Annunciation:

The captain of the angelic hosts was sent by almighty God to the pure Virgin to announce the good tidings of a strange and secret wonder: That God as man would be born a child of her without seed, fashioning again the whole human race. Proclaim, O people, the good tidings of the re-creation of the world.

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John_Curran
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Tom, did you read through the entire site? there is a link about the artist-and-technique, where she explains a good bit about her gold technique.

On the other site you mention, iconkovcheg, did you note the 6th version of St. Nicholas? he has a purple halo, and very defined facial lines. Wonder what you think of that particular icon?

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Tom
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Yes. I was having a was lucky enough to be able to have dinner with Anton Belov and George in Washington DC a year or two back. Belov was having a workshop at the Russian Cathedral and the work, in person, was amazing. Everyone in class was using assiste that day and very well.

I wanted to get a workshop here but George is difficult to get a hold of these days and I missed my window.

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Tom

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daniel
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I agree about using icons for political ends, but this, too is not new. Haven't you seen that Russian icon that portrays Novgorod's (I think) victory over another (Orthodox) Russian city? It is really a beautiful image, whatever one thinks about jingoistic iconography.

Thanks for linking to that Russian site; I didn't know anyone was emulating 19th century iconography anymore. And they do do it splendidly, do they not?

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daniel

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Tom
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I think the actual issue for me is the using of icons for social and political statements. This icon was used for a Right to Life campaign originally. I was kind of brought up to believe that the images were sacred to the point that communion wine labels and bulletins were collected and burned if they had the holy image on them. You certainly did not throw them in the trash and put coffee grounds on them! Now we make posters and flyers out of icons. Hmmm..

I doubt the ancient original was painted with politics in mind but I have been wrong before. Too bad there is not a way to know why the image is so rare. Why did it not become more popular? Was there some theologizing agaist it? Or was it still an aberancy of some sort? You don't really see a lot of this imagery in the western Renaissance period.

These icons seem to violate that whole viseral thing also which is why you don't see the Sacred Heart featured in (Orthodox) icons.

I am not sure the original intent of any icon was to spearhead a political cause and incite a march on Washington (but there are a few that were painted to specifically illustrate a cause like the "Twin Towers" icon). They are supposed to inspire us to pray and very few of them seem to make that happen anymore although I have to admit the work coming from this studio is awe inspiring:

http://www.iconkovcheg.ru/index.php?lang=en

and this ladie's site makes me want to give up painting altogether, beg forgivness and hide:

http://www.byzantineicons.ro/

How, in God's grassy green planet, does one get gold to look like that? Amazing. I am not sure if I have enough life left in me to be this good.

[ 08. May 2009, 12:36 PM: Message edited by: Tom ]

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Tom

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