The greek icon and its tradition

16 min läsning

The impressionism of the twentieth century owned its very existence to capturing the light on a face and Hals certainly did that (see the above example). It is light that creates form and depth, as all experienced contemporary painters are fully aware of.

If we view an iconography as a totally separate Art to painting in general, then we really have to look at the development of the Greco-Roman style of Byzantium. And it is here I wish to introduce the reader to the excellent background on icon painting written by Adamantia Syrdari-Kompouri First is a brief review to the evolution of Byzantine art over the past millennium, its impact as an artistic current, as well as a technical approach to the construction of a portable icon.


Byzantine art is an integral part of the greek cultural and religious identity, and undeniably an important contribution to the creation, the appreciation, the influence and ultimately the meaning of art in general. Especially in our times, a period marked by reshuffles and controversies, the need to promote values and ideals is crucial, in order to maintain focus on important values and connect ourselves to our past.

Byzantine icons emerged in the Byzantine times and became the culmination of Byzantine art, due to the coexistence of luxury and simplicity in the materials, the innovative techniques and their poetic style. They became an integral part of the private and public life of the Byzantines and, as an artistic expression, played a catalytic role during political crises of that time. They were transmitters of divine grace, recipients of religious supplication, sponsors of moral strength, spiritual uplift and salvation, the miraculous channels of communication between the faithful with the world of the Divine.

These qualities of the icons contributed to their particularly great spread mainly since the Macedonia times, leading them to embellish church iconostasis, shrines and private iconostasis throughout the Orthodox world.

The origins and background of icons

The origin of the word icon derives from the ancient greek word for “image”. During the Middle Ages it acquired the specific meaning of depicting holy persons or scenes. The worship of icons as a religious expression gained ground in the 6th and 7th centuries. However in 726 AD under the reign of Emperor Leon III Isaurus, a serious politician controversy erupted in the Byzantine Empire, regarding the worship of icons, known as Iconoclasm, followed by the destruction of many religious representations that and persecutions of icon worshipe

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