Christ Blessing ('The Saviour of the World')
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Christ Blessing ('The Saviour of the World') about 1600

On Display Scottish National Gallery

The half length figure of Christ looking directly out at us with his right hand raised in blessing is a traditional form of composition. Although a late work, this canvas recalls the Byzantine icon painting of El Greco's youth. The artist includes a crystal-like sphere or globe representing the world; more usually such pictures include a book of scripture. His fluid brushwork and extensive use of white admirably convey the idea of divine light. The painting may have formed part of a series, popular in Spain, depicting Christ and the twelve Apostles.

Glossary Open

Byzantine art

Artistic style that developed in the eastern Mediterranean under the rule of the Byzantine Empire and spread beyond its boundaries to other parts of the Christian world. It moved away from classical naturalistic figures to flat frontal figures and is best seen in mosaics and icons.

Composition

The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

Icon

A devotional image, usually depicting Christ, the Virgin Mary or a saint, traditionally associated with the Byzantine, Greek and Roman Orthodox Churches. By extension, it is used to denote an important and enduring symbol.

Byzantine art, Composition, Icon

Details

  • Acc. No. NG 2160
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 73.00 x 56.50 cm (framed: 99.50 x 81.00 x 10.00 cm)
  • Credit Purchased 1952