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

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.

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

Detail Images