Icons by Angelus Workshop
Icons have formed an aspect of worship in the Christian tradition from earliest times, with the first mention of the use of an icon appearing in the apocryphal Acts of John. Early Christian iconographers developed their images by including elements from Greek, Roman and Egyptian art. The robed figure of the bearded philosopher, with fingers raised in a teaching gesture, and clasping a book, was familiar throughout the ancient world, and it is not surprising that this respected and venerated image should become equated with that of Christ although some early images show Christ without a beard.
The earliest icon of
Christ, still extant, is thought to be the Pantocrator (Ruler of All), in Saint
Various schools and
styles of icon painting have evolved, emanating from particular national or ethnic groups.
Orthodox icons from
Icon painting passed
An icon seeks to evoke an experience of stillness, or unchangingness. The gaze of the image seems directed at the viewer in an intimate and personal way. Many people find that this helps them to identify qualities, which for them, are eternal.
The icon is designed to enable the viewers own religious practice; it is not intended to be an object of veneration for its own sake. This issue comprises one of the principal concerns of iconoclasm, and one which has never been fully resolved in the West. In the Eastern Church the position of icons was resolved in the 9th century, following a period of iconoclasm and debate. The status of the icon was defined and the use of the image became generally accepted. Perhaps because of this acceptance, in Orthodox culture, icons are found as much in private homes as in the Church.
Interest in the use of icons has re-emerged more recently in the West, a development which may accompany the greater prominence being given to mystical approaches within Christianity. An icon is often compared to a window, or a door. It is as if some kind of opening appears, through which the individual may gain a deeper understanding. Perhaps something has the chance to come out; or perhaps something new is given access to the self.
Jenny and Roy Summerfield (Lincoln 2003)