Deesis

DEFINITION

From the Greek word δεησις meaning supplication or beseeching.In art, it is traditionally a representation in Byzantine art of Christ enthroned and flanked by such supplicants as the Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist, other saints and angels. It is often found on an iconostasis.(pr. dee-EE-səs)Examples: Byzantium, Constantinople, Hagia Sophia, South Gallery or Catechumena, The Deesis, third quarter of the 13th century, mosaic, Istanbul, Turkey. Christ's left hand holds a closed Book of Gospels as he raises his right hand in benediction. His face is strikingly realistic and expressive, as are those of the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, who stand to either side of Christ. All are set against a golden background. The lower portion of the composition has been damaged. This and all other mosaics in Hagia Sophia were covered with plaster at the church's conversion into a mosque in the 15th century. This actually preserved the mosaics for later restoration, which began in 1929, when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk ordered the conversion of the mosque into a museum. See art conservation, Byzantine art, detail, and lacuna.

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