Podea of the embroiderer Evangelistria, 1716

3 November 2011

Dimensions: 50 x 44.5 cm.

The work is divided into two bands by two inscriptions, one liturgical and one dedicatory. In the top one is a bust of the white-haired Ancient of Days, surrounded by a small band, from which a ray of light falls upon the Blessed Virgin. There is a seraph on either side of the Ancient of Days, while in each of the two corners there is a four-leafed anthemion with wings forming a wheel.

The central scene is that of the Annunciation. On the right, standing before a chair, the Blessed Virgin has her feet on a cushion, in the manner of the empresses of Byzantium. She is three-quarters turned towards the angel who brings her the message; her hand is stretched out in a gesture of supplication and acceptance. On the left, the angel, who has just arrived, stretches out his hand towards Mary as if in blessing. Between heaven and earth is the liturgical inscription above the archangel: “HAIL THOU THAT ART HIGHLY FAVOURED THE LORD / IS WITH THEE / HAIL CHASTE VIRGIN / HAIL BRIDE UNWED”. Above the Blessed Virgin we read: “BEHOLD THE HANDMAID OF THE LORD / BE IT UNTO ME ACCORDING TO THY WORD”. Below the Annunciation, in two columns, is the following inscription: “THE SUPPLICATION OF THE SERVANT OF GOD CHRISTOPHOROS / AND ABBOT OF THE HOLY MONASTERY / OF VATOPAIDI , ãAæπ@ã (1716). BE MINDFUL O LORD OF / THY SERVANT EV / ANGELISTRIA”.

The podea is surrounded by a narrow band with a spiralling blooming tendril, which in the two lower corners is interrupted by the busts of David and Solomon. These prophet-kings wear crowns and hold open scrolls. The embroidery is on red satin. The whole of the background is scattered with acanthus-like plants, in kombovelonia stitch, forming, in the centre, two bouquets. The wings of the angel are in kamares stitch. His tunic is for the most part in straight spasmeni, while that of the Virgin is in straight riza and straight spasmeni. The outer edge of the nimbuses is indicated by artificial pearls. The whole design has a Christian dignity. The angel has just arrived from heaven with his wings lowered; one leg is in front of him with the knee projecting, while the other is behind. The Blessed Virgin has her head bowed; her clothing holds her right wrist tightly to her breast and only the palm emerges, held out in front of her. The ground on which the figures stand is distinguished from the background. Given that the Monastery is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, the podea was intended for its patronal icon. The embroiderer Evangelistria is not known to us from other sources, but her work is noteworthy.