Mount Athos, 17th century
21cm; W. 10cm
Provenance: the icon was collected before the Second World War by Leigh Ashton (later Director of the V&A Museum). It then passed to his niece Leila Ashton. It was purchased from her by the BM, with the help of the British Museum Friends (as the British Museum Society) in 1995.
Reg. no. BEP 1995,0903.1 (Cormack 31)
The icon is painted in egg tempera on wood. Painted on the upper half is a haloed half-length figure of St Nicholas, unusually not wearing an omophorion. He holds a Gospel book in his left hand, and raised his right in a gesture of blessing. Below, on a different scale, is a full-length figure of a haloed St George, mounted on a white horse and plunging a spear into a dragon. It is certainly part of a triptych, and was most likely in use in one of the monasteries of Mount Athos, perhaps in the cell of a monk.
Literature: D. Buckton, ‘A Cretan icon of St George and the Dragon’, British Museum Magazine, no. 23 (Winter 1995), 18; R. Cormack, Icons, London, 2007 (repr. 2014), 120, no. 31.
Robin Cormack and Maria Vassilaki