(Cretan, 15th century)
Anastasis (Descent into Hell), signed lower right in Latin "angelus pinxit", egg tempera primed with gesso on linen with gold leaf and laid on panel, 15-1/4 x 12-7/8 in.; 16th century (or style) Venetian pastiglia frame, 20-7/8 x 18-3/4 in.
Note: Angelos was the most important icon painter of the 15th century, one in which the center of artistic production shifted from Constantinople, during a period of political turbulence and wars, to Candia in Crete, a territory of Venice. It is possible that Angelos apprenticed under an artist with the Constantinoplitan principles of painting but he also combined Western influences of Venetian painters within his compositions. So revered was his painting that Domenikos Theotokopoulus, better known as El Greco (1541-1614), was one of many artists to be influenced by his paintings. Until now, only twenty-two icons were known to have been signed by the artist.
Scholar and author on Angelos, Maria Vassilaki comments, "This is a completely unknown icon by Angelos Akotantos, whom I qualify as a Byzantine painter working in Venetian Crete in the second quarter of the fifteenth century (1425-1450). It depicts the Descent into Hell, which is the Byzantine Resurrection of Christ. He was signing his icons in Greek: ‘ΧΕΙΡ ΑΓΓΕΛΟΥ’, which means ‘the Hand of Angelos.’ The inscription ‘angelus pinxit’, which we read on this icon, is very rare. There is one more icon of the Man of Sorrows today in the Museo Correr, Venice which is also signed ‘ANGELUS PINXIT.’ It’s highly possible that the [Descent into Hell] was for a Venetian client, which explains why the painter’s signature is in Latin. This was common in Cretan icons at the time of the Venetian occupation of the island.”
Brunk Auctions is honored to be representing this important and rare icon. Our gratitude is extended towards Maria Vassilaki for her assistance.
This lot is accompanied by a certificate from the Art Loss Register, ref: S00140865
Literature: Vasilak, Maria, and Angelos Akotantos. The hand of Angelos: an icon painter in Venetian Crete. Farhham, Surrey: Lund Humphries, 2010.