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Painted Icon, Double Triptych

Arts of Africa

The Ethiopian church’s strong link to Eastern Orthodox Christianity can be seen in the use of icons. The figures are motionless in posture as in Byzantine art, but they have Ethiopian features.

One central panel of this icon shows the Virgin and Child flanked by the archangels Gabriel and Michael. The left panel depicts Saint George slaying the dragon, above, and Takla Haymonat and Ewostatewas, two local saints, below. On the right panel, the Resurrection is represented as Christ releasing Adam and Eve from Limbo.

The opposite central panel portrays Christ wearing a crown of thorns and being mocked before Pontius Pilate. Below are the husband and wife who commissioned the icon. The upper part of the panel on the right shows a local saint, Abo, with a dove and pairs of lions and leopards. The lower part depicts the entombment of Christ.
CULTURE Amhara
MEDIUM Gesso on linen, tempera, wood
  • Place Made: Amhara Region
  • DATES 19th century
    DIMENSIONS 12 x 18 in. (35.0 x 45.7 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 76.132
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin H. Williams
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Amhara. Painted Icon, Double Triptych, 19th century. Gesso on linen, tempera, wood, 12 x 18 in. (35.0 x 45.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin H. Williams, 76.132. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 76.132_recto_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE recto, 76.132_recto_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Side A: Virgin and child in central panel flanked on either side by scenes of Crucifixion. Ascension of Christ, St. George and the dragon, and figures representing possibly the servants of St. George. There are inscriptions over the heads of some figures. Colors are mainly blue, yellow, red, and green. Side B: Central panel is scene of Christ in majesty with radiating nimbus surrounded by sleeping figures and on side panels figures of Ethiopian saints, scene of the raising of Lazarus (possibly), a shepard and an Ethiopian King. Colors are mainly yellow, red and blue. Condition: All painted surfaces in need of stabilization. Condition is fragile. Linen worn especially at edges.
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