Ikon’s to iphone’s concept and text written by denis taylor

3 min läsning

The word icon comes from the Greek word eikon (image resemblance) and from that basic understanding of the word ‘icon’ that this whole issue is based. We start with the Egyptian icons through the ages to contemporary portraiture and end with a critics personal memory of a painter who created icons, but never lived to fulfil his destiny.

Egyptian icons?

The famous paintings known as the Faiyum Portraits were discovered at the Necropolis of Faiyum and today could be viewed as form of icons of Art. Although many of these portraits were also found elsewhere in Egypt the vast majority of the Greco/Roman Egyptian portraits were discovered in the Faiyum Basin. The initial examples of these portraits were sent to Europe from the Saqqara Pyramid in 1615 by Pietro Della, an Italian voyager. Due to the dry hot Egyptian climate the portraits were amazingly preserved and the colours astonished the viewers of them as they seemed as just as vibrant as the day they were painted.

It took until 1887 before the British Egyptologist, Flinders Petrie, started excavations at Hawara where he found eighty one portraits in the (Hawara) Necropolis. He showcased them all at an exhibition in London. Following the huge success of that exhibition he travelled back to the Necropolis (north of the Pyramid of Amenemhat III and at the Palace of the “Labyrinth”) in 1910 and he found another seventy portraits. Most of these portraits are on display in Cairo and London museums.

It is thought that this form of panel portrait painting had started as early as the first century BC in Egypt. The early Egyptians had been painting pictures of their Gods and Pharaohs they were attached and buried with mummies for generations, therefore it was a natural switch to a employ more realistic style of portraiture, one that today we have become familiar with, from the past and contemporary portraiture.

The Faiyum portraits were found attached to the head of their loved ones after they were bound with bands of Cartonnage and buried in a wooden casket. Cartonnage is made from layers of linen which was then covered in wet plaster which dried to a final finish which became hard and smooth covering the body. The medium used varied as time progressed. Later the colours used were created with natural pigments bound together with egg, which became known as tempera. A medium that was also favoured by the Greek and the Byzantium icon painters for murals.

Many of the early Faiyum portraits and indeed sixth century icons, were created using encaustic. (hot wax pai

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