Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mary with Her Son

Title: Mary with Her Son

Artist: Anonymous (Ethiopian)

Medium: Tempera on wood

Size: 38.1 x 44.44 cm

Date: late 17th century

Location: The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.

On this triptych the imposing figures of Mary and Her Son dominate the lower scene of Christ teaching the Apostles, who are seated in rows on the central panel and wings. The large, watchful eyes, always powerful in Ethiopian icons, are especially impressive here, as are the fine details of the speckled and jeweled robes.

The side panels of this triptych depict the Resurrection and Saint George, and the Crucifixion and Saint Mercurius. The resurrected Christ, seen at the upper left, holds a small cross as a symbol of victory over death.

Historically, Ethiopia was a Christian kingdom with strong ties in both trade and religion to the cultures located around the Mediterranean. Ethiopia's Christian tradition dates back to the 4th century, when the king of the Aksumite kingdom converted to Christianity; by the 15th century, this African nation had developed a tradition of icon painting that rivaled that of the Orthodox empires of Byzantium and Russia as well as the famed panel paintings of Renaissance Italy. This particular example dates from the late Solomonic Dynasty

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