Middle Eastern School, 17th century, A extensive plan of the Holy Land, oil
Lot 87
A rare, early Proskynetarion depicting the Holy Land Provincial Ottoman Empire, probably Jerusalem late 17th/ early 18th Century
Sold for £22,500 (US$ 36,904) inc. premium

Lot Details
A rare, early Proskynetarion depicting the Holy Land
Provincial Ottoman Empire, probably Jerusalem late 17th/ early 18th Century
tempera heightened with gilt on cloth, the red ground depicting the city of Jerusalem, with holy sites and scenes in identified by Greek inscriptions in black, framed
82 x 118 cm.

Footnotes

  • Provenance: Private collection, Austria.

    A proskynetarion is a visual guide or map for a pilgrim to the Holy Land. They derive from Proskynetaria, the term for manuscripts describing the mainly Christian monuments of Palestine. Most begin with a proskynetarion and the manuscripts were read by pilgrims to this part of the world. Many manuscripts of this type are preserved in Greek libraries, and were produced in great numbers, particularly during Ottoman rule over the Greeks after 1453, mainly dating to the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries.

    Our proskynetarion is a rare type painted on canvas and sold to pilgrims as souvenirs, intended to be rolled up and carried home. They are multi-level images that represent a combination of geography, theology and history. Derived from the tradition of cartography (see for example a 6th Century map of the Holy Land, Madaba, Church of St. George) they depict one unified multi-episodic narrative of holy places, people and sites of the Holy Land.

    According to Dr M. Immerzeel of Leiden University this example is one of the oldest specimens of a proskynetarion found to date. The only known similar work is in the Museum of Saumur in France, dated 1704. Like the Saumur proskynetarion, our painting in its depiction of the Holy Land focuses on the landscape background and buildings while depicting only a limited number of figural scenes. The other two known 18th Century specimens, dated 1747 and circa 1760, show an increased number of icon-like scenes whereas the landscape elements become much more rudimentary. The 19th Century pieces represent a patchwork of smaller icons placed around the city of Jerusalem without landscape, for example a proskynetarion in Hernen Castle in the Netherlands dated 1832. Two 17th Century examples are known but these are Armenian and entirely different in their content.

    The inscriptions include: the Bridge of Jacob, the city of Narareth, Yathismorli Gardens, Jericho, Bethenia, the city of Gaza, the tomb of Rachel, the well of Samonia, St Simeon.

    For further reading see M.Immerzeel, "Proskynetaria from Jerusalem. Souvenirs of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land," Series Byzantina III, 9-24; P. Arad, "The Proskynetarion from the Monastery of the Holy Cross and the Map of the Holy Land", ECA 6 (2009)pp. 1-5. For a general discussion see Soterios Cadas, Holy Land: Illustrated Proskynetaria, 17th – 18th Cent., Athens, 1998.
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