‘Illustrated guides’ to Orthodox monasteries on display in Hydra

The «Icons on Paper» exhibition, currently on display at the Historical Archives Museum of Hydra, consists of 18th to 20th century Greek Orthodox engravings. The works, carefully collected by Dori Papastratou, come from a rich collection which has been donated to Thessaloniki’s Museum of Byzantine Culture. The collection provides useful information about the kind of art which the Orthodox Church adopted from the West in the middle of the 17th century. Part of the collection, which consists of about 200 icons on paper, belongs to the museum’s permanent collection. The remaining works are available for hosting temporary exhibitions both in Greece and abroad. The Hydra exhibition contains about 45 icons with various themes, which represent all different kinds of Orthodox engravings. The title of the exhibition stems from Dori Papastratou’s two-volume edition «Icons on Paper: Orthodox Religious Engravings, 1665-1899,» the bulk of which was written in Hydra. Cheaper alternative According to the director of the Museum of Byzantine Culture, Anastassia Tourta, icons on paper were a kind of illustrated guide to the monasteries: they informed worshippers of the monasteries’s history, legends and icons, as well as the holy relics in their possession. Such icons could usually be found in the houses of relatively poor people, who did not have the means to acquire their own painted icons. Initially, Greek Orthodox engravings were printed in European cities with the help of prominent Greek communities were equipped with the necessary technological means, in places like Venice or Vienna. As time went on, engraving workshops at Mount Athos covered the needs of the entire Orthodox world. The exhibition, which opened recently and will run to October 30, is accompanied by a catalog printed with a sponsorship by the collector’s daughters, Marina and Daphne Eliades.

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