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Bishop Petros with Saint Peter

UnknownAD 974–997 - AD 997

The National Museum in Warsaw

The National Museum in Warsaw

The painting, dated to the second half of the tenth century AD, was discovered in one of the chapels of the cathedral. Because of its size, conservators divided it into two parts while still in Sudan. The painting shows two representatives of the highest authority in Nubia – the dark-skinned monarch, king Georgios II and bishop of Faras, Petros. Both officials are accompanied by their patron saints, the king is sided by Mary with Child and the bishop by St Peter the Apostle.
Georgios was a member of the dynasty of Nubian rulers whose representatives pioneered in the application of traditional Byzantine depictions of the Divine investiture. The painting is one of the earliest known scenes of the coronation of a Christian ruler who was not a Byzantine Emperor. The Child held by Mary bends towards Georgios and puts His hand on the Nubian ruler’s crown, symbolically handing royal power over to him . Mary hands the monarch a gem-set sceptre whose fragment is visible over his right shoulder. Despite much damage to the figure of the king, archaeologists agreed that he likely wore the embellished robes of a Byzantine court official, a long tunic with sleeves and a long coat clipped over his right shoulder. Next to the king, bishop Petros in liturgical vestments is painted, holding the Book of Gospels in his left hand. A narrow handkerchief wrapped around a finger of his right hand suggests that the priest participates in liturgy. St Peter; standing behind the bishop, puts his hands on his shoulders, the gesture which legitimizes the spiritual authority of Nubian priest over the Faras congregation. The depiction of the king and the bishop expresses harmony of spiritual and lay power, at the same time emphasizing the supernatural source of their origin.

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Details

  • Title: Bishop Petros with Saint Peter
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: AD 974–997 - AD 997
  • Location Created: Faras; Sudan
  • Provenance: From Polish excavations in Faras; in the National Museum in Warsaw since 1964
  • Physical Dimensions: w113 x h244.5 cm
  • Inv. no.: 234031 NMW
  • Type: Wall Paintings
  • Medium: Mud plaster; tempera

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