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the Hagia Sophia: Deesis Mosaic

Deesis Mosaic

Deesis Mosaic in the Hagia Sophia, c. 1118. This mosaic depicts the Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child, who holds a scroll and makes the sign of benediction. As in the parallel mosaic, the emperor offers an apokombion (purse with gold coins weighing about 3 kgs) while the empress presents a scroll inscribed with a list of her donations to the church. In this mosaic, the emperor is John II Comnenus (1118-1143) and his wife is the Hungarian princess Irene. The empress is shown with blond hair and rosy cheeks, shy and a little ill at ease, having been brought up far from the strict etiquette of the sophisticated Byzantine court. This mosaic extends around the corner, where the portrait of their son Alexius was added the year he was made co-Emperor. The 17-year old Alexius looks pale and frail; in fact, he died not long after his coronation.

Credit: / Wikimedia