VISION OF THE APOCALYPSE WITH FOUR PROPHETS
GREEK, CIRCA 1800
Christ carried from Heaven by four fiery cherubs, enthroned, in blessing and with wheels on his feet, in a gold-rayed mandorla of three shades of blue as a reference to the Trinity. The mandorla is surrounded by the Evangelical beasts of the Apocalypse: eagle for John, ox for Luke, lion for Mark and angel for Matthew. The Virgin and John flank Christ, thus forming the Deisis. Above is the 'Etoimasia of the throne' with the closed Gospel, thus implying the fulfilment of the New Testament era, and the segment of the sky on the top indicates the presence of the God-father. Below, the emperor St. Constantine and his mother Helena prominently display the True Cross, which is in axial position with Christ and the throne above, thus illustrating its role as the main instrument of Christ's Passion and consequently as the foundation of Christianity and means of human salvation. The celestial forces comprising of angels, the apostles, saints and the Just people fill the extended mandorla. In contrast to the heavenly realm, the prophets who foretold the Apocalypse are represented in the lower register of the icon, against a naturalistic landscape with mountains, trees and blue skies. The absence of nominal inscriptions does not permit the identification of the elderly, seated prophets. However, the main Old Testament prophets who wrote on the Apocalyse are four: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezechiel, and Daniel. Three of them must be represented on this icon. The standing prophet with the cross is Saint John the Forerunner. He is the only one to look upwards to the heavenly vision, thus fulfilling the scripture in his fourth Book, where he mentions that he was allowed to look into heaven with the help of an angel. The icon is executed like a miniature, with precise painting, in pastel colours and gold leaf.
13¾ x 9 7/8 in (35 x 25.25 cm)