Icon with the Deesis

Date: mid-900s

Geography: Made in probably Constantinople

Culture: Byzantine

Medium: Ivory

Dimensions: Overall: 6 5/16 x 5 1/8 x 1/4 in. (16 x 13 x 0.6 cm)

Classification: Ivories

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.133


In the Deesis, Christ appears in glory between the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. Traditionally the first witnesses to Christ's divinity, the Virgin and Saint John came to be seen as intercessors with Christ on behalf of humanity. This plaque was probably the central panel of a triptych, a deluxe portable icon for personal devotion. Later, in western Europe, the panel may have been used as a cover for a gospel book.