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IV

CONTINUING ANALYSIS OF DYNAMIC SYMMETRY IN BYZANTINE AND RUSSIAN ICONS

 

With the above said about iconographic reverse perspective, let us now see how some additional fourteenth to sixteenth century Byzantine and Russian icons seem to be derived from prototypes that were designed by use of the system of dynamic symmetry.

 

Analysis of the Descent into Hell icon with dynamic symmetry

The analysis of the icon, Descent into Hell, fifteenth century, Vologda, Northern Russia, now in the Hermitage Museum, Leningrad, falls into the "root-three" rectangle. There are two icons like this from the eleventh century that were at the St. Catherine Monastery, Mt. Sinai, and are now in Leningrad, Russia. They are a simplified form of this composition's subject matter. (See Figure IV-1 below)

 

Figure IV-1. The Descent into Hell icon

demonstrating icon design lines (left) and dynamic symmetry analysis (right).

 

The stress is laid on the icon-mountain's conformation (often termed "little heels" in iconography), which reappear below at the mouth of Hell. Note how the circle of the "mandorla" around Christ's figure and the semi-circle at the mouth of Hell match design lines on the right of Figure IV-1 above. Note also the slanted lines indicating direction of the icon-mountains and that the lower lines in front of Hell contain the design features of Hell.

The figures depicted above the mouth of Hell can also be found in the Byzantine icons of the Palaeologian Dynasty. In terms of its color application it is perhaps the most beautiful example of the art of Vologda.

 

Analysis of the Baptism of Christ icon with dynamic symmetry

In the analysis of the icon, Baptism of Christ, dating from the end of the fourteenth century, at the Greek Patriarchate, Jerusalem, there are two vertical "root-eight" rectangles which form its design composition. It can be seen that the central figure of Christ is in the "root-three" rectangle portion vertically and that the mountain tops are contained in the four upper dynamic symmetry sections of "root-five" through ''root-eight" rectangles. The central Heavenly Ray comes down the center of the composition. The diagonal line of the right leg of St. John the Baptist falls along a design line beginning at the lower center of the composition (See Figure IV-2 below).

At the lower level, the River Jordan's edges fall within the triangle shape from the lower corners of the icon to the center at about Christ's hip.

 

Figure IV-2. Baptism of Christ icon

demonstrating design lines (left) and dynamic symmetry analysis (right)

 

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