Eastern Europe, Greece, ca. 1777 CE. A truly striking painted wood icon of the sarcophagus of Saint Spyridon. The sarcophagus occupies the center of the image and two angels flank it, one facing forward, the other looking back. The sarcophagus is upright, with the saint's mummified remains visible within behind glass panels. The sarcophagus itself is depicted in its real location, in St. Spyridon's Church on Corfu Island off the Albanian coast. Wonderful details complete the scene: the heavy red curtains, drawn back to reveal it; the altar rail, painted as if made of white stone; the tiled floor and the red and gold frame around the sarcophagus. The background - the wall of the church - is brightly gilded. Size: 16.55" W x 23.45" H (42 cm x 59.6 cm).
Around the sarcophagus are handwritten inscriptions in Italian - "Reliquary of St. Spyridon" - and in Greek - "By the hand of Spyridon, Sperantsa, 1770". It may have been painted in Venice.
St. Spyridon (ca. 270 to 348 CE) was the Bishop of Trimythous and is renowned as a miracle worker who took part in the Council of Nicaea (325 CE). When Cyprus was invaded in the Middle Ages, Spyridon's body was disinterred and found to be incorrupt, a confirmation of his sanctity. The body was taken to Constantinople and kept there until 1453, when that city fell to the Ottomans, and his relics were once gain moved, this time to their current resting place on Corfu.
Provenance: private Ventura County, California, USA collection, purchased in Pasadena, California, USA before 2000
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