With its roots in the distant, pre-Christian past, the art of the icon has been refined over centuries. Icon paintings are instantly recognisable but have never been widely understood in the West. The art developed in the deserts of the Middle East, passing through the Roman and Byzantine imperial ages and achieving its highest form in Russia, while exerting a discernible influence on the Italian Renaissance along the way.
Richard Temple’s lavishly illustrated book provides a concise but thorough tour through the ages of the icon, tracing the art from its origins to the 19th century and beyond. The icons selected to illustrate the text include famous works as well as many stunning, rarely seen ones. This particular emphasis on lesser-known masterpieces, along with the author’s cogent, thorough and very personal overview of the major periods and themes of icon painting, make this book a truly unique contribution to the field of art history and appreciation. It is both an introduction for the uninitiated and an objet in its own right that will delight connoisseurs.
About the Author
Richard Temple has owned and operated London’s The Temple Gallery since 1959, and has been instrumental in acquiring important icons for some of the world’s foremost collections, including The British Museum and the Menil Collection in Houston. He is the author of Icons and The Mystical Origins of Christianity.
'This beautiful book provides us with a rare opportunity to gaze with delight on good reproductions of icons so that we may engage with their great beauty and powerful mystery. I here record my gratitude to Richard Temple.'
Sister Wendy Beckett
'Beautiful and lavishly illustrated ... if only one book on this subject can be had, this would be an excellent choice.'
Catholic Library World
'This richly illustrated book brings us face to face with some of the most beautiful and unfamiliar images in European civilisation.'
'Temple's excitingly illustrated book of icons extends our exposure to the extraordinary holy art of Byzantium and Russia ... an erudite overview.'
'Icons is magnificent and very interesting.'
Yuri Piatnitsky, Curator of the Byzantine Icons Collection