Monday, January 28, 2008

The Pauline Anniversary

Angelos Akotantos (active 1436 - 1450):
Icon of The Embrace of the Apostles Peter and Paul
Oil on canvas on panel; 46.4 x 37 cm.
Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

Maria Vassilaki, in ‘A Cretan Icon in the Ashmolean: The Embrace of Peter and Paul’, Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik, 40 writes:

"The Embrace of the Apostles Peter and Paul, whose names are inscribed in Latin, belongs to a series of nearly identical icons by the Veneto-Cretan painter Angelos Akotantos, two of which are signed.

The subject is seen as symbolic of oecumenical peace.

More specifically, these icons have been linked to hopes raised at the Council of Ferrara/Florence (1438-9) which unsuccessfully aimed at the union of the eastern and western churches."

At 5.30 p.m. on June 28, 2008 on the eve of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Pope Benedict XVI will preside at the celebration of first Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the- Walls.

During the ceremony, the Pope will proclaim a year especially dedicated to St. Paul, to mark the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the "Apostle of the Gentiles."

According to the Vatican Radio Calendar, the year will run from June 29, 2008, to June 29, 2009.

Akotantos probably came from Constantinople and was the founder of the Cretan school of icon painting which flourished from the second half of the 15th century until the 17th century.

Of him, Dimitrios Konstantios writes in Greece, Hearth of Art and Culture after the Fall of Constantinople in “Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance 15th-18th Century Treasures from the Byzantine & Christian Museum, Athens” Edit. Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Athens 2002:

"Angelos Akotantos was one of the most significant painters in the first half of the fifteenth century, associated in particular with the dependency (metochiori) of Mount Sinai in Candia - the church of Saint Catherine of the Sinaites - and with the hegumen of the Valsamonero monastery, the man of letters Jonah Palamas. Angelos' oeuvre is distinguished by his sensitive use of colour and his love of detail, while he also created new iconographic subjects...His reputation lived on into the sixteenth century, and he was still dubbed pitore famosissimo in the seventeenth."