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The composition highlights the Incarnation, focusing on the Holy Spirit descending “in the form of a dove” inside a golden disc, and the diaphanous Infant on the breast of the Virgin, the latter being a rather rare iconographic theme. The watery landscape is also quite unique, and is primarily derived from ecclesiastical hymns.

The swirling figure of the Archangel has been likened to the dancing figures of ancient maenads, while the concentrated facial expression of the delicate Mary figure indicates the deeply moved emotional state of the protagonists. The icon is a masterpiece of the last phase of Komnenian art, and, as is evident from technical details, must have been painted by a Constantinopolitan artist.


Details

Tempera on wood
End of twelfth century
61 Χ 42 cm
St. Catherine's Monastery Saint Catherine, South Sinai Governorate