Icon with St. Barbara
Inv. No. 3451, Painted wood
Western style / Italy ?
St. Barbara Church, 15th century

St. Barbara is among the most popular Christian saints in the East and West. She was locked in a tower by her pagan father, the rich Dioscuros from Nikomedia (today’s Ízmit in Turkey), who was envious of his beautiful young daughter. While he was travelling, Barbara converted to Christianity and eventually was beheaded by her own father.

Icon with Sts. Sergius and Bacchus on one side and a face on the other
Inv. No. 3360
Tempera and gilt on linen and wood
H: 42 cm, W: 28 cm
Probably from Wadi el-Natrun, Monastery of the Syrians, ca. 1300

St. Sergius (on the left) and St. Bacchus (on the right) were two Syrian soldiers in the Roman army and suffered martyrdom in 296. Their names are written in Greek next to their heads. They wear Byzantine court dresses and gold collars around their necks. In one hand they hold swords and and in the other they carry staffs against their shoulders. The other side of the icon depicts a face. The hair is set with a diadem decorated with red and green jewels.

Icon with St. Anthony visiting St. Paul of Thebes
Inv. No. 3418
Painted wood
H: 55 cm, W: 56 cm
Old Cairo, Monastery of Mercurius (Abu Sayfayn), 1777

St. Paul (on the right) is regarded as the first Christian hermit; St. Anthony (on the left) is called the “Father of the Monks”. Their names are written in Coptic next to the halos surrounding their heads. Both saints met each other towards the end of Paul’s life (c. 343) who was buried by Anthony in a grave dug by lions. According to the “Life of St. Paul” written by St. Jerome, St. Paul was barefoot and dressed in a coarse garment made of palm leaves. St. Anthony is depicted in the conventional vestment of a monk.

Icon with the Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt
Inv. No. 3350
Painted wood
H: 77 cm, W: 54,7 cm
Unknown Provenance, 18th century (?)

In the centre of the depiction is the Virgin Mary riding on a white horse. Jesus is seated on St. Joseph’s right shoulder. In the background, a town with white houses refers to Egypt, the place of refuge. The sojourn of the Holy Family into Egypt plays an important role in the Coptic Church and is annually celebrated on the 1st of June.

Icon with Jesus entering Jerusalem as a King
Icon with Jesus entering Jerusalem as a King
Inv. No. 3463
Painted wood
Akhmim style, 18th century

This icon depicts the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem as a king. People line the path and throw their garments in front of the donkey carrying Jesus. This event is called “Palm Sunday”, as people welcomed Christ by throwing palms in his way and is regarded as one of the major feasts in the Coptic Church.

The other side of the panel shows the Crucifixion.

Icon with the Nativity
Icon with the Nativity
Inv. No. 3848
Paintd wood
H: 36,3 cm, W: 29,4 cm
Greek style, 17th century
Presented by Mrs. Hykyan Pasha

In the centre of the painting, the newly born Christ is lying on a red bed inside a cave. An ox and a donkey approach the newly born with curiosity. In front of the cave the reclining Virgin Mary is wrapped in a cloth. To her left the three Magi on horseback point to the star of Bethlehem. In the upper left corner three angels witness the marvelous meeting below. To the left at the bottom Joseph is shown as an old man, in front of him is the devil in the disguise of an old man, trying to convince Joseph to leave Mary. In the upper right corner, an angel announces the good news to a shepherd.

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