Symbols of Cosmic Descent in Byzantine Imagery

Subject: Lectures
Dates: 6 February 2019
Time: 19:00 - 20:30
Location: The Hellenic Centre
Tutor: Richard Temple
Full price
£ 7
Student concession
£ 5
OAP concession
£ 5

The contemplative or Hesychast tradition of the early Christian monasteries, drawing on universal traditions of knowledge including Gnostic and Neo-Platonist spirituality, encouraged practices that could lead to mystical insight. The ‘revival’ of Hesychasm in the 14th century coincides with the development in icon painting in the period known as the Paleologan Renaissance. A distinctive new style and mannerisms were established that set the tone for the next three hundred years, echoes of which can still be found in some 19th century Russian icons.

Academic art historians and academic theologians have mostly overlooked the significance of this innermost or mystical aspect of Christianity though it can be found in the writings of the Desert Fathers and the Athonite Fathers as well as in the symbolism of the abstract forms and expressions in icon painting.

Icons are cosmic diagrams referring us to the laws that govern Creation – the Macrocosm – which are the same laws that govern the Microcosm – ourselves.

The lecture will be followed by a small drinks reception.

This lecture will take place in the Friends & Members Room at the Hellenic Centre, 16-18 Paddington St, Marylebone, London W1U 5AS.  Click here for a map.

This lecture is made possible by the generous support of the A.G. Leventis Foundation.

Also made possible with the support of the Hellenic Centre.

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Tutor biography

Richard Temple

Dr. Sir Richard Temple Bt., PhD founded the Temple Gallery in 1959 as a centre for collectors and for the study, restoration and exhibition of ancient icons and sacred art.

He is a member of the Advisory Panel of the National Art Collections Fund of Great Britain and has been active in the acquisition of icons by several major museums, among them the British Museum, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Timken Art Gallery in San Diego, California, the Gallerie di Palazzo Leoni Montanari in Vicenza, Italy, the Museum of the Church of Christ the Redeemer in Moscow and the Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton, MA. He has played a major role in the formation of several highly important private collections such as that of Mr. Eric Bradley, which passed into the Museum of the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. The collection of Charles Pankow in San Francisco which is now in the Patriarchal Collection Museum of the Church of Christ the Redeemer in Moscow and the collection of the late Mrs. John D. Rockefeller III.

Over the years he has published many catalogues and scholarly articles. In 1990 his book Icons and the Mystical Origins of Christianity was published by Element Book which has been reprinted several times. He was awarded a PhD at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, University of Wales for his thesis The Esoteric Tradition and Peter Bruegel the Elder.