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Greek Icon

17/18th century

Jesus Christ, Man of Sorrows


Oil on wood panel
11
7/8 x 15 1/8 inches


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The iconic devotional image called the "Man of Sorrows" shows Christ, usually naked above the waist, with the wounds of his Passion prominently displayed on his hands and side, andcrowned with the Crown of Thorns.

The Man of Sorrows in its many artistic forms is the most precise visual expression of the piety of the later Middle Ages, which took its character from mystical contemplation rather than from theological speculation.

The image developed from the Byzantine epitaphios image, which possibly dates back to the 8th century. An epitaphios is an icon which is used during the services of Great Friday and Great Saturday in the Eastern Orthodox Churches and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite. The Epitaphios is also a common short form of the Epitáphios Thrnos, the "Lamentation upon the Grave" in Greek, which is the main part of the service of the Matins of Holy Saturday, served in Good Friday evening.

A miraculous Byzantine mosaic epitaphios is known as the Imago Pietatis or Christ of Pity.The various versions of the Man of Sorrows image all show a Christ with the wounds of the Crucifixion. Christ's eyes are usually open, even though he is shown after the deposition. This represents the two natures of Christ - he was dead as a man, but alive as God.