Does anyone know who this iconographer is? Where to find more of his icons?


  • I am almost 100% sure this is Victor Fakhoury in Egypt. Dr Helena Moussa from St Mark Coptic Museum in Canada just did a wonderful presentation about Victor Fakhoury's icons at the 2016 Coptic Conference in Claremont. He has done similar icons with the Martyrs of Maspero, the Libyan Martyrs, and other recent political events in Egypt like the removal of Mobarak and Morsi. His characteristic style includes many ancient Egyptian motifs (like hieroglyphics, lotus leafs, water, pyramids, rowing boats, etc) and the popular Church under the protection of Christ as seen here. 
  • Just one small thing...this is NOT an icon.  It's a painting with a sociological and cultural meaning, but not something I would venerate as something religious.
  • some certain extent i agree...but i didn't want to get any arguments by saying so :-)
  • I'm not 100% sure I would exclude this as an icon. Iconography is theological by definition and every sociological and cultural event has theological ramifications. In addition, iconography is a type of theological story telling, not simply a historical event frozen in a picture. It would seem to me that the iconographer is stating that God is watching over his church in Egypt and "giving" the beauty of Lady Liberty. In other words, it is Christ who makes American liberty a reality, just like he does in Egypt. It is not much different than an icon that tells the story of a female saint who receives her "beauty" from God. Nor is it much different than a melismatic hymn that tells the theological story of a biblical event (which is why most people do not like malismatic hymns - because it is outside their understanding of sacred musical story telling)

    Sure some will be uncomfortable with this type of art and exclude from any idea of iconography. But if one takes a step out of their comfort zone, it is clear that there is a theological message in this art. This by definition is what an icon is. 
  • But would that picture with Lady Liberty be something you put in a liturgical service?
  • Well, technically we can't put anything in a liturgical service without approval from a bishop or the Synod. If the Synod or the diocese bishop believed it qualifies as an icon and he/they allowed its use in liturgical service, would you tell the bishop(s) they are wrong because it is not a typical icon?
  • Hmmmmm

    I think there needs to be a clear line to be drawn, guidelines that could help a bishop discern what is permissible liturgically in any form of art, whether it be by paint or music. One chooses a bishop based on the fact that he has that discernment better than the average Christian, at least one hopes.

    With that in mind, these guidelines can also be better understood by the masses as well, and should be encouraged in order to understand the bishop's choices. It is just as equivalent as the "Amen" in the liturgy. Without a real "Amen", the leader of the liturgy cannot proceed. The people's Amen is just as important as the bishop's decision in this case.
  • I'm not going to beat a dead horse. We all know that no bishop or Synod would be comfortable enough to allow icons that are liberal at best and non-theological or political at worse. It's untenable to continue a debate on an unlikely hypothetical scenario.

    I simply wanted to state that even this "controversial" icon can be seen theologically and can be vindicated as an icon, regardless of personal preference of how Lady Liberty is depicted. 
  • edited September 2016
    Maybe overtime, you're right, but nowadays, the reference is obvious and hard to miss.

    There's a quote by St. Severus who was not happy with the depiction of the archangels as a high ranking Roman soldier. Today, as depict them this way understanding the symbolism, but in his time, it was hard to swallow. I would think the same may apply in this case. Maybe the picture is depicting justice and freedom before the Pantocrator, but only in a divine sense, not in earthly justice and freedom.

    I don't see anything disrespectful, but hard to swallow as venerable today.

    (Or maybe this is a new depiction of Archangel Michael? But the lady liberty part seems to mess with that depiction)
  • This Coptic portrait was painted by George Edward in the year 2000 for the occasion of the consecration of St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in Nashville, TN by the late HH Pope Shenouda III. As I recall, the intention was to present it as a gift to the Governor of Tennessee. I don't remember the reasons for it not being presented, or if it was given to someone else instead.
  • ^^^That makes more sense.

    I have nothing against the painting, just figured calling it an "icon" might have given it the wrong context or purpose.
  • Yeah, I especially like how Emmanuel avoided the word icon altogether. Real smooth. 

    I have nothing against IT also. I just wanted to show that iconography is based on theology, not artistic and social concepts of beauty, permissibility or offensive content. This is not to say an icon which is theological can be ugly, haram or offensive. But an icon is not meant to be an artistic rendition. Just like we can't really take accurate historical information from a 3rd century icon, we can't dismiss an icon because it makes us uncomfortable. 

    Mina, if you can find the reference from St Severus' writings concerning Archangel Michael's icon or iconography in general, let us know.
  • I finally found an icon by Victor Fakhoury. This is the Martyrs of Maspero. He had other icons with the same dark colors that show political events mixed in with ecclesial events.


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