Washing of the Feet
The Washing of the Feet (from the Deesis tier)
The St. Cyril of Byelozersk Monastery
"The Washing of the Feet" is one of twenty-one surviving icons from the Deesis tier of the Cathedral of the Dormition at the St. Cyril of Byelozersk Monastery. An astounding sixty pieces which composed the monumental iconostasis still exist and provide valuable insight into both the hierarchical canon of the iconostasis and the artistic program followed by a large workshop of icon painters. This group would have included artists from Novgorod and Moscow as well as a few local hands.
The Festival tier at the Cathedral of the Dormition was made up of the twelve major festivals of the Church along with twelve panels which illustrated the events of the last week of Christ's life. The final icon was a portrait icon of St. Alimpii the Stylite. The Deesis tier contained twenty-one icons while the Prophet tier held ten panels displaying half-length portraits of groups of Old Testament prophets (see "Nathan, Haggai, and Samuel," "Micah, Elijah, and Gideon," and others in this ImageBase).
The exact origins of this group of icons has been widely debated. It is, however, generally believed that those icons composing the Festival tier were executed by the same artist, who is assumed to have been of Muscovite origins, due to the austere simplicity of the composition and use of color in the icons.