Icon: Evangelist St Matthew from a Royal Door | R-4
Origin Russia
Period : early 17th century
Size : 59.5 x 43.5 cm
Private Collection, Germany

The icon shows the Evangelist St Matthew against an architectural background, on a wooden seat, inclined, facing left, and wearing his traditional dress of a red tunic and an ochre mantle. His sandal-clad feet rest on a foot-stool. In his right hand he holds a tablet and a pen and in front of him lies an open text scroll with his writings for the Book of Gospels. With his left hand he is blessing his own writing. In the upper part within in a segment of heaven, St Matthew’s apocryphal symbol the angel appears, painted in fiery red.

The seat and pose emphasize Matthew’s role as a writer. Writers had been depicted in this way ever since the time of the Roman and Byzantine empires - side-on, seated with their feet on a rest and with their texts close to hand. Classical authors of important writings are depicted in this manner in miniature on the first page of their works.

The icon comes from the Royal Door of an iconostasis.