(d. 1687, Zakynthos)

Christ Pantocrator

Egg tempera on wood, 119 x 85 cm
Ikonen-Museum, Recklinghausen

This large Pantocrator icon was doubtless painted for the Local Tier of an iconostasis, where it was affixed next to the Royal Door on the right.

In the icon Christ is depicted as Pantocrator (Ruler of All), portrayed frontally, seated on a throne, majestic like a Byzantine emperor. The dark-blue tunic decorated with fine gold strips (assist) over a dark-red undergarment; together with the background, which is covered in gold leaf, are to be understood as signs of Christ's divinity: his glory and immateriality symbolize divine transcendence. Christ holds an open book of gospels in which words from St John's gospel (14:6) can be seen, in Greek: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life ..."

While the overwhelming majority of icons were created by anonymous masters, this one of the Pantocrator in majesty is signed and dated bottom right: "1653. By the hand of Elias Moskos". Elias Moskos originated from Rethymnon on Crete, and was one of the five most important Greek icon-painters of the 17th century. The battle for Crete between 1645 and 1669 and the final fall of the capital Candia (today's Herakleion) to the Turks forced many important painters into exile on the Ionian islands of Zakynthos, Corfu or Kefalonia. In 1646 Elias Moskos was one of those to settle on Zakynthos, where he lived and worked until his death on 26 January 1687. All his dated icons were painted either on Zakynthos or the neighbouring island of Kefalonia between 1649 and 1686. The one in Recklinghausen, dated 1653, is thus one of his early works. It is still in the tradition of Byzantine icon-painting, although most of his works were strongly influenced by Italian Mannerism.