Temple Gallery

Established 1959

Assembly of the Apostles with Saints - exhibited at the Temple Gallery, specialists in Russian icons

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VV017. Assembly of the Apostles with Saints

18th century
39 x 28.5 cmClick here to convert metric size to imperial

£3,800Click here to convert price to USD or EUR

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The icon is separated into two tiers, with the bottom level divided into four sections. In the main tier is the iconography of Sts Peter and Paul holding a miniature church (which symbolises the Church), and surrounded by the other 10 Apostles (Andrew, James (son of Zebedee), John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James (son of Alpaeus), Lebbaeus, and Simon the Zealot). Peter, who stands on the left, is holding the keys to the Kingdom in his right hand. Paul, on the right, is holding a bundle of scrolls. Above the main scene is a small opening with golden rays symbolising the celestial sphere. Two of the apostles hold golden codex's.

The iconography of Sts Peter and Paul was especially important in 15th - 16th century Crete, and is related to another iconography of Peter and Paul embracing, as well as the political context of this period surrounding the Council of Ferrara (1438-1445), as Nano Chatzidakis points out:

This is a subject which, like that of the Embrace of the two Apostles, was disseminated in Venetian-held Crete particularly during the 15th and 16th centuries. Moreover, it has been ascertained that the iconography of the Embrace was crystalised by the painter Angelos, and that the wide diffusion of depictions of the two Apostles is linked with the expression of pro-Unionist tendencies in Cretan society of that time.[1]

Chatzidakis also points out that the earliest example of this iconography is at the Church of St Andrew in Peristera (Greek island in the Sporades).[2]

The iconography subsequently became popular across Orthodox countries on the Mediterranean.

In the bottom tier we have four saints, from left to right: St George, unidentified female saint, St Nicholas, and St Demetrios.

1. in Maria Vassilaki [ed.], The Hand of Angelos: An Icon Painter in Venetian Crete, (Farnham, Lund Humphries, 2011), p. 220
2. See plate 4 at:

Detail Images