Christ Pantocrator is a painted wood panel dating back to the 6th century from St. Catherine’s Monastery located in Sinai, Egypt. This painting is considered one of the oldest Byzantine religious icons and is the earliest known work of the pantocrator style (Lowden, 66). The painted panel stands at 84 cm height with a width of 45.5 cm and a depth of 1.2cm (Weitzmann, 13) The painting is believed to have been larger originally, but was cut down on the top and sides at some point, for reasons unknown, to produce the dimensions that we now have (Weitzmann,13). Here Christ is shown dressed in a purple robe— a color commonly chosen to represent those of imperial status and royalty. This choice of color for his robe is symbolic of his status and importance. Christ is depicted raising his left hand to make the sign of a blessing and with his right he holds onto a book. We can assume this book is most likely a Gospel because it is adorned in jewels in the shape of a cross. The painting is deliberately asymmetrical to symbolize Christ’s dual nature (Weitzmann, 15). Christ’s left side is symbolic of his human nature with his features depicted as much softer and light (Weitzmann, 15). Whereas Christ’s right side is symbolic of his divinity with his stern look and intense features (Weitzmann, 15). The eyes themselves are different in shape and size as well as the hair on his left side is swept behind his shoulder (Tour Egypt).
"Tour Egypt." Christ Pantocrator - Icon in the Monastery of St. Catherine. Accessed April 04, 2018. http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/catherines2-1.htm.
Cormack, Robin. Byzantine Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Lowden, John. Early Christian & Byzantine Art. London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1997.
Weitzmann, Kurt. The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai, the Icons. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1976