Archangel Michael, Detail
Detail from "Archangel Michael"
In the fifteenth century, there was a very precise order to the tiers of icons and their relationship on the large screen, the iconostasis, which served to separate the sanctuary from the nave of the church. The second tier from the bottom was reserved for the Deesis (Life of Christ) as well as depictions of the Archangels, the Apostles, Fathers of the Church and Martyrs. The bottom tier was devoted to local patron saints, above the Deesis was the Feast tier depicting the principal festivals of the Christian church, and the fourth tier bore images of the Prophets. If the iconostasis were five tiered, the top displayed images of the Patriarchs.
This panel of the Deesis is from the iconostasis of the Church of St. Nicholas, Gostinopolye Monastery near Novgorod. It has been dated to c. 1475 by V. Lazarev, corresponding with the date on the bell of the Monastery.