"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Icon Painting

As I have noted many times on here already, books on icons are just about the most popular of all publications in Eastern Christian studies. They continue to pour forth from presses large and small, academic and ecclesial, Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic. This is not a little surprising when one realizes, first, that scarcely a century ago icons were often ignored or scorned by academics and historians as the primitive totems of backwards peoples too stupid to appreciate the canons and conventions of a supposedly more sophisticated Western art; and, second, a little more than a century ago, at the 1888 Lambeth Conference, the Anglican bishops who gathered there had sniffed of Orthodoxy that “it would be difficult for us to enter into more intimate relations with  that Church as long as it retains the use of icons”! (Cf. the situation of today, when major academic presses publish appreciative books on icons and when Anglican publishing houses publish several books on icons by Anglican clerics, and when Orthodox publishers print one of the most widely used introductions to icons--written by another Anglican!)

Holy Cross Press earlier this year published a short work devoted to the technical aspects of icon painting/writing:

George Kordis, Icon as Communion: The Ideals and Compositional Principles of Icon Painting (Holy Cross Press, 2011), 118pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:

This work largely consists of notes and observations on the drawing stage in icon painting. The chief objective was to present the thought underlying the Byzantine artistic system, and how this is expressed in the handling of the face, the human figure and the composition.

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