Saint Euthymios, 17th century
Inscribed: Saint Euthymios
Northern Greece
Tempera on canvas mounted on wood
12 1/8 × 7 5/8 × 1 in. (30.8 × 19.4 × 2.5 cm)
Bequest of Jermayne MacAgy
1964-198 McA

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This small panel illustrates the tradition of icon painting in its modest, folkloric tradition. The saint’s long grey beard and simple garments identify him as an ascetic—a monk or hermit. Black script on either side of the figure’s head reads “Saint Euthymios,” a name belonging to several sainted monks. Most likely this painting shows Euthymios the Great, an early 5th-century church father who established monastic communities throughout what is now Palestine. Euthymios’s whimsically curling beard points to the swaddled infant he cradles in his left arm. The imagery of the swaddled child more typically belongs to St. Stylianos of Paphlagonia, known for his ability to heal children and assist women anxious to conceive. It appears that the iconography of Stylianos was applied here to Euthymios because the latter was born to aged, childless parents. Because of this, Euthymios also developed a reputation for aiding infertile couples.