Icon of Saint Demetrios of Salonika portrayed as a warrior
A larger image of this Icon of Saint Demetrios of Salonika portrayed as a warrior. Byzantine, c.1400. The Temple Gallery D004.
D004. Saint Demetrios of Salonika.
Inscription: Ο ΑΓΙΟC ΔΗΜΗΤΡΙΟC ΜΕΓΑΛΟΜΑΡΤΥC (Saint Demetrios the Great Martyr)
Byzantine, circa 1400 (Palaiologue period)
Provenance: bought in Istanbul, 1960s
Panel: 27 x 20 cm
In this portrait the youthful saint stands relaxed, poised and alert, with his weight on his left leg.
His blue cloak, rather damaged in the area below his right arm and below the shield on the left, is swept back at the shoulder revealing body armour.
His spear, held in his right hand, is firmly planted on the ground while his shield is held in his left hand and pressed against his hip.
The scabbard of his sword protrudes from below the shield.
An enormous bow rests against his left shoulder, the upper part curving away from his head. His quiver is suspended at a forty five degree angle behind his right thigh.
Demetrios occupies the space of the panel with his feet on the lower edge of the raised border as though he were about to step out of the picture into our space.
His bearing and especially his look – gazing out from under a slick of dark hair low on his forehead – expresses unflinching bravery and determination.
Yet we feel his humanity and perhaps even his vulnerability.
The work is typical of late fourteenth or early fifteenth century Byzantine painting.
It can be compared with the well-known icon of the same subject in the Museum of Applied Art in Belgrade with which it is shares many features in common.
Both panels have pronounced raised borders typical of icon panels of the period in question.
I know of no other comparable painting, though there are related examples from the high tradition of
carvings in ivory
Source: The Temple Gallery, London: D004.
See also a Byzantine Carved Ivory Icon of Saint Demetrios, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, second half of 10th century
Steatite Icon of Saint Demetrios as an archer, Byzantine Thessalonika, early 14th Century. Louvre OA 11219.
Other Byzantine Illustrations of Costume and Soldiers