Icon of Triumph of Orthodoxy


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

The back is mostly bare wood, with two horizontal battens. The subject of the icon is the Triumph of Orthodoxy (the restoration of images in Byzantium in 843 after decades of an official ban on icons, the so-called period of iconoclasm from c. 730). In the centre of the upper register is the icon of the Hodegetria icon (kept in the monastery ton Hodegon in Constantinople), which iconophiles believed was painted by the Evangelist St Luke, and whose production was used as a key argument in favour of the legitimacy of icons of the saints. The icon is on a stand, with red curtains, and on each side stand two guardians, wearing red hats and with wings. On the left is Empress Theodora, mother and regent of the infant Michael III (three years old in 843). On the right is the Patriarch Methodios and three other iconophiles. In the register below, from left to right: St Theodosia, holding an icon of Christ (1); St Ioannikios (4); St Stephanos the Younger (5); St Theodore the Studite (6), who between them hold an icon of Christ; St Theodore (7) and St Theophanes (8), known as the Graptoi; St Theophylaktos (10); and St Arsakios (11).
The icon is in generally good condition, but the inscriptions in red are abraded, so that only a few letters of the title are discernible, essentially IA on the right hand side. Several of the saints’ names are worn.


  • Title: Icon of Triumph of Orthodoxy
  • Date Created: 1400/1400
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 390.00mm; Width: 310.00mm; Depth: 53.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted; tempera; gilded
  • Subject: emperor/empress; new testament; iconoclasm
  • Registration number: 1988,0411.1
  • Production place: Painted in Constantinople
  • Period/culture: Byzantine
  • Material: Icon painted with egg tempera with gold leaf on a wood panel surfaced with gesso and linen.
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Bought from Axia Art Consultants in 1988. Sold at Sotheby’s, London, in 1984.

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