1. Murals
2. Portable Icons
3. Treasury
Figures and Issues
Skete of Prophet Elijah

2. The Portable Icons

Christ Pantokrator. Around 1363.
A considerable number of portable icons of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine period have been preserved and are today kept in the sacristy and in the icon store of the monastery, constituting one of the “most remarkable selections of portable icons on Mount Athos.” A few of them are even considered to be votive offerings of the founders, as is also the icon of Christ Pantokrator exhibited in the Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg on the frame of which the figures of Alexios and John are depicted opposite each other. Among these votive offerings are two large double-sided icons dating back to the fourteenth century.

A total of ten items belong to the fourteenth century. One of them is that of Christ Pantokrator, related in its iconographical style to the above-mentioned icon depicting the founders. The second one is that of St Athanasius the Athonite which is the oldest portable icon showing the founder of coenobitic monasticism on Mount Athos. The third one is a double-sided icon. On one side is St John the Baptist and on the other is an iconographically unique representation of the Mother of God holding the Christ Child in her arms with St John the Forerunner looking toward the Virgin. To the same period belongs a painted cross. At its centre is Christ crucified, with the Virgin Mary depicted on one of its arms and St John the Theologian on the other. Above Christ, at the top of the upright, is the Preparation of the Throne, an allegorical representation of the Second Coming.

About the same number of icons date from fifteenth century, the products of Greek and Slavic workshops. Of special artistic value are three pieces. One icon of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, one lyperon and a Great Deesis.

Another group of exceptionally important portable icons belong to the Cretan School of the sixteenth century, with a prevalence of austere but serene ascetic figures. The most important icons in this group are the one of Christ Pantokrator, one of the Blessed Virgin “The “Joy of All” in the katholikon and one of the Transfiguration. All three icons are attributed to Theophanes Strelitzas, known as Bathas, and are considered to be works from the period of his artistic maturity, a time when he was also working in the monastery of Great Lavra (1535). Attributed to the same artist is another icon of the Transfiguration, as well as an icon showing the Baptism, both connected with the artist’s time at the neighbouring monastery of Stavronikita where he worked with his son Simeon (1545/6).

St. John the Forerunner and Theotokos Vrefokratousa (“holding the Holy Infant”). Around 1363.

St Athanasius the Athonite. Around 1363.

The icon of the Lamentation, which shares certain characteristics with the treatment of the same theme in the katholikon of Stavronikita, and the icon of the Crucifixion, belongs to another group of icons related to the work of Theophanes. Also of particular importance are two double-sided icons with many tiny painted figures, the work of the Chania artist Ambrosios Emboros from about 1600, and an icon of St George with scenes from his martyrdom that also comes also from a Cretan workshop. The painters of these icons clearly follow the artistic style of Theophanes, but there are also significant differences between them.

The entire sixteenth century carved-wood epistyle is a piece of work exceptional in its quality and value. It contains a series of icons with 31 scenes from the Dodekaorton, the cycle of the Passions, the Miracles of Christ and the life of the Blessed Virgin, all of them lying artistically between the Cretan School and the so-called School of Thebes.

Many notable portable icons date back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and are mainly the work of local Athonite painters of the school of Dionysius of Fourna. Today, most of the portable icons (about 700) are kept in the monastery’s icon-store housed on the fifth floor of the tower.

Epitaphios. Around 1600.