An icon (from the Greek word eikon, “image”) is a wooden panel painting of a holy person or scene from Orthodox Christianity, the religion of the Byzantine Empire that is practiced today mainly in Greece and Russia. It was believed that these works acted as intermediaries between worshipers and the holy personages they depicted. Their pictorial language is stylized and primarily symbolic, rather than literal and narrative. Indeed, every attitude, pose, and color depicted in an icon has a precise meaning, and their painters―usually monks―followed prescribed models from iconographic manuals.
The goal of this book is to catalogue the vast heritage of images according to iconographic type and subject, from the most ancient at the Monastery of Saint Catherine in the Sinai to those from Greece, Constantinople, and Russia. Chapters focus on the role of icons in the Orthodox liturgy and on common iconic subjects, including the fathers and saints of the Eastern Church and the life of Jesus and his followers. The volume includes a wealth of color illustrations in which details are called out for discussion.
Alfredo Tradigo is the artistic director and art critic for Famiglia Cristiana magazine and has devoted thirty years to research on Christian iconography.