Friday, December 3, 2010

A copy of a copy with a few changes along the way.

Virgin with Child, called Kykkotissa, this is my copy of an icon detail by a Venetian painter working at Sinai during the Crusade era.
Painted with acrylic on coarse canvas with machine sewn cloth frame, fringe and brass bells.
Image copy 9 x 6 inches
Size from dowel to bottom of fringe is 22 inches by 10.5 wide.

I just completed this piece for a group project in which we were to copy a Nativity from a past master. Though not a Nativity, it is a beautiful rendering of Christ-child and Virgin Mary. The original icon is much larger at 50.6x 39.7 cm, roughly 20 x 16 inches and painted with tempera on wood. The Sinai icon apparently has Saints depicted around the outer edge of the icon; though when I painted this I didn't know how the completed icon looks as the book presents only the detail image. I spent all day yesterday trying to find extra information on-line regarding this icon but came up short. THE ICON, the book I copied the image from states that this is a rendition of "Virgin with Child that copies the famous St Luke Virgin, known as the Kykkotissa, of the Monastery of Kykko on Cyprus"(p205)

I find this Icon appealing as the Virgin Mary holds baby Jesus in her right arm and cradles his right foot gently in her left hand, its a tender portrait of a Mother and Son. Unlike other icons theres no mudras pertaining to blessings or hints to the future path of Jesus that I know of. In the book it states "the western copyist omits the dogmatically significant motif of Christ receiving the scroll, the logos, out of the Virgins hand"(p205), this makes me wonder if the artist was aiming for a more realistic and sensitive humanizing rendition of The Christ as a baby.

I note that icons called Kykkotissa are of a tender depiction with baby relaxed in mothers arms and many show the baby with bare legs. One site I found states that in Greek, Kykkotissa means "compassion", another site states it is derived from the golden cyprus oak on mountain Kukkos and means the "Virgin of the Oak Apple", either way its a loving tender moment that reaches through generations.

My copy being acrylic on coarse canvas was a challenge to begin with due the roughness of weave so it was surprising how well the image came together after the initial paint layer was laid. I put on varied relaxing music from around the world and even listened, really listened to Lenard Cohen songs while painting. Then at night, awaking between sleeping I found myself thinking about the image and how beautiful I found it to be, and also how it was to be finished off. The perfect red shiny cloth was found in my fabric bins, and also the same color of ribbon, amazing. I thought I had a small brass angel pin to put above the image but I cannot find one so bells were attached to the ribbons instead.

Though this piece was not painted following iconographers style and though it is not an exact copy, it was painted lovingly with heart and respect.

1 comment:

Carol Blackburn said...

It is beautiful, Teresa. What an undertaking! Simply fabulous.