The Wernher Triptych

The arrangement of the interceding figures on the wings shows how supplication develops from the archangels, as the witnesses of the Incarnation, to the church fathers, who hold the Logos as the book, and finally to the warrior saints, who manifest the divine presence through their action and victory.

The Virgin of the "Hodegetria" type stands underneath a canopy. The side wings display the archangels Michael and Gabriel, Saints Nicolas and John Chrysostomos, and the warriors Theodore and George. Unlike the Walters Triptych, on which Saints George and Theodore are depicted in civilian garb, the British Museum ivory shows them in mail cuirass and militant chlamys, with spears and swords in their hands. By clutching the weapons in their hands, these two figures show that they intercede through their action in battle. The warrior saints associate ideas of military power and protection with the Mother of God. Although no information survives about the patron or the context of production of this triptych, its pictorial program suggests an imperial patronage. A jeweled crown hangs from the apex of a decorative arch on the back side of the central panel. Two slender crosses appear in the wings. The crown and the crosses are meant to be read as state symbols expressing the imperial ideology of victory.



Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium (2006) by Bissera V. Pentcheva




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The Byzantine Legacy
Created by David Hendrix Copyright 2016