Temple Gallery

Established 1959


BZ08. Presentation of Christ in the Temple – Companion to BZ07
Cretan School, late 16th or early 17th century
Tempera and gold on gesso on wood
Panel: 37 x 30.5 x 1.5 cmClick here to convert metric size to imperial
Condition: fair condition, some minor restoration
Inscription: Hypapante ‘Meeting’. Anna’s scroll: Τούτο το βρέφος ουρανόν και γην εστερέωσε; Touto to brephos ouranon kai gen estereose; “This child established heaven and earth.”
Provenance: 1. Private collection, London; 2. German art market
Feast Day: 2nd of February (Old Calendar 15th February), known as Candlemas in the West
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This icon comes from the same series of the Twelve Feasts as No. 7, the Entry into Jerusalem. The painter is a Cretan artist familiar with the icons of Damaskinos in the church of San Giorgo de Greci (Fig. 1.) The Presentation of Christ in the Temple is one of the ‘great feasts’ of the Orthodox liturgical calendar; it originates from ancient times and is known from at least the fourth century. Its iconographic representation was fully established by the ninth century.

Fig. 1. San Giorgio dei Greci, Venice. Michael Damaskinos completed the icons in 1582. The Feasts Row runs across the upper part of the iconostasis.

The scene takes place in the Jerusalem Temple. It illustrates the text of Saint Luke: the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,28  Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:27-32 KJV).

The Prophet Simeon wearing a rose-pink robe is shown standing on the right receiving the Christ-child from the arms of the Virgin. They stand before the Royal Doors of the templon above which is a baldachin with a red curtain symbolically tied to a pillar signifying the opening or revelation of the mystery. Behind Mary we see St Anna the Prophetess (Luke 2:36–38) and St Joseph, all three in rich bright colours. Joseph holds the sacrificial offering of two turtle doves according to the requirement in Mosaic Law.1

A helpful commentary on the elaborate meaning and theology of the event is at

The individual and distinctive style of the faces is typically late Cretan, as we also see in the companion icon BZ07.

Detail: Back of Panel


  1. Leviticus 12:8 [return]