The icons and wood-carvings exhibited at the "Oxia Episkepsis" Showroom of Ecclesiastical Heirlooms in Makrinitsa constitute a rich collection of post-Byzantine works dating from the 17th through the 20th century, the majority being placed between the 18th and 19th centuries, a period which coincides with the "spring" of the church architecture, wood carving and painting in Pelion. Consequently, they represent a wide range of different styles and trends, which coexist and interact throughout this long period (17th-20th centuries). Artistically the icons of the collection are mainly related to the workshops of northern Greece and Mount Athos, while some rescue known names of painters who were active in Pelion and the wider region, such as Margaritis Makrinitziotis, Pantazis Miliotis, the friar Gabriel, Eleftherios, the Dimitrios student of Jacob, Dimitrios C. Grekos, Theophilos.
The collection numbers approximately over a hundred works and as a whole, has a historical, functional and artistic-aesthetic interest. From a historical point of view, for example, of value are deemed three written triptychs of donation memorials recording a large number of family names, residents of the region. The collection also includes portable icons in various dimensions, icons of icon stands, as well as a number of icons and written wood-carvings, originating from church and chapels temples of the settlement, in particular from the line of despotic icons and those of the epistyle (Dodekaorto, apostolic).
Of particular interest is the stylistic diversity which distinguishes the rendering of similar typological themes into icons contemporary to each other or of different periods of time, as for example the two icons of Metamorphosis (Transformation), one of the 17th century (no. 9) and the other of the early 19th century (no. 22), indicative of the wealth and evolution of the artistic ways of expression of ecclesiastical painting through time, even in works by the same painter. In the latter case, typical is the example of the most productive painter of the region, Margaritis Makrinitziotis, who in a series of icons on the subject of the Holy Muzzle, covering in time about a decade, while maintaining the original iconographic style, it differentiates in terms of the technical rendering of the subject.
A special place in the collection has the icon of an icon stand portraying the Metamorfosis of Christ (17th century), a rare case of a wood-carved and painted icon also with carved a frame on the wood of the icon itself. From a technical point of view, it is a remarkable and rare for its time a kind of icon combining wood-carved and written parts.
The icon of the Pantokrator Christ (Almighty Christ) (bevelled with a frame carved on the wood of the icon itself) from the group of despotic icons of temples, stand out for both the artistic quality and its antiquity. It is the largest in size icon of the collection and dates back to 16th -17th century. It is a work of a northern Greece workshop. Prominent position in the same group have two more icons of Pantokrator in a similar iconographic style, the first with a self-wooden frame (18th century) and the other with a written frame (18th-19th cent.), both representative works of the artistic tendency of "returning to the Panselinos", which appears and spreads during the 18th century. Together with the previously mentioned icons of Pantokrator Christ, the ones positioned symmetrically corresponding to them despotic icons of the Madonna, with Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus in the most popular type of Odigitria, were preserved so as to be exhibited at the museum. Only a single icon of Panagia Odigitria with the inscription "THE SALVATION OF THE SINNERS" constitutes a signed work of painter Dimitrios, student of Jacob in the year 1837, and consequently to the same painter can be attributed the contemporary symmetrically positioned corresponding icon of Christ with the inscription " THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD ", both representative works of the so-called "athonian" (of Mount Athos) painting of the 19th-century.
Two more icons of All Saints, although identical in the rendering of the subject, they differ in their artistic expression, as one precedes (18th -19th century) the other (19th century) in time, confirming the evolution of the expressive media in the tradition of ecclesiastical painting. However, both icons are linked artistically to workshops on Mount Athos.
Four icons in total depicting St. John the Baptist also testify the variety of stylistic tendencies of ecclesiastical painting during the 19th century and until the beginning of the 20th. Among them, one bears the signature of Demetrios C. Grekos and dates by inscription to 1890.
Notable, despite their fragmentary preservation, there are the wood-carved sections of the collection's temples. There are six different sections of shelters, covering time-wise a wide period from 17th to 19th century. Among them, is noted for the attention of the wood-curving, but also of the painting, section of the epistyle of the series of the Dodecaorton, preserving a small-sized icon with subject the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (17th-18th centuries). Of particular interest is, due to the scarcity of its kind and its clear-gap carving technique, part of, probably, the large-dimension circular crown of a wood-carved chandelier (early 18th century). A special place in the group of carved wooden parts of temples also occupy two Crucibles together with their bases, one of the 18th and the other of the 19th century.
Of particular importance for the general evaluation of the hagiographic work of the well-known popular painter Theofilos, who was active in the area of Pelion between 1897 and 1927, has the locating of three icons at the Makrinitsa Showroom of Ecclesiastical Heirlooms. More elaborate, in terms of design and colour, is the icon of the Resurrection of Christ following the Western iconographic type, widespread in this period, while of interest are the two smaller-sized icons of Saint Magdalene and Saint "Sacred" Mary, according the inscription.
Finally, the great artistic quality of a triptych with composite iconography and central representation of the Holy Forty Martyrs is pointed out, where the intense shaping in the performance of the naked bodies of the martyrs foretells aesthetic values, which - as part of the search for the "Greekness" of the Generation of the '30s - has come back mainly to engravings, such as for example the works of maturity of the modern Greek engraver Tassos Alevizos.
Data - information:
Mania Margaritov, Giannis Papaioannou, art-conservators
Nanοu Maria, theologian, historian of Byzantine art, Director of the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Monuments and Heirlooms Section of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies