The

Temple Gallery

Established 1959

Sophia Wisdom of God - exhibited at the Temple Gallery, specialists in Russian icons

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WW004. Sophia Wisdom of God

Russian
17th century
31.4 x 25.7 cmClick here to convert metric size to imperial

Provenance:  Private collection, Denmark

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In the centre of the panel is an enthroned angelic figure (Sophia) wearing Byzantine royal vestments, including a crown, and holding a sceptre in her right hand. Sophia is surrounded by a concentric aureole representing the celestial sphere. Both her flesh and her wings are bright red. Sophia's feet rest on a spherical shaped footstall, representing the world (see Isaiah 66:1; Matt. 5:35; Acts 7:49), and the Ark of the Covenant (1 Chr. 28:2; Ps. 99:5; Ps. 132:7). As in the deesis iconography, Sophia is surrounded by the Mother of God (on the left) and John the Baptist (on the right); both are standing on platforms. Above her chest, the Virgin is holding a sign showing Christ Emmanuel, the iconic representation of Christ as the Logos. While the Baptist holds an open scroll with an inscription from the Gospel of John: ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world’ (1:29). Above Sophia - in another aureole - is an image of Christ the Saviour in half-length. At the top of the panel we see the 'scroll of heaven' (Rev. 6:14) with the hetoimasia[1] in the centre with a closed Gospel. Five angels surround the hetoimasia. They are shown in 'divine conversation' as they support the 'scroll of heaven'.

This is a very rare 17th century version of this important subject. For a detailed study of the Sophia iconography, see cat. WW001 in the current exhibition.




Footnotes:-
1. The Greek word is literally translated as “preparation” and refers to the Throne of Preparation, or the Second Coming of Christ.

Detail Images