This article has been updated since its original date of publication.
Disclaimer: We were provided with a free product (the icon) in return for our honest review of HolyArt. All opinions expressed in this article are our own. The company did not require us to give a favourable review. All they asked of us was to write about the existence of their company and the product they sent us. HolyArt is not an affiliate of TheByzantineLife.com and we do not receive any commission for purchases you may make after clicking the links in this article.
A short while ago an Italian company contacted us about possibly reviewing one of their products. We agreed to a review in exchange for an icon so that we could share our experience with you.
So first my husband and I explored HolyArt’s website. (You can find it here https://www.holyart.com/). They have a lot of religious products, from rosaries to incense and key rings to icons. Even so we mostly spent time looking at all the icons they sell. The website is easily searchable. And the icons are categorized by type. They have a good selection of both printed and painting icons. The wide selection also means that there is something for every budget. If you want a large hand painted icon – they’ve got it. If you’re looking for a good print of an icon on wood, they’ve also got it.
Once you’ve clicked on a category of icons, you can further narrow your search by what is in stock, sizes, subject and even price range. Being able to narrow by subject is probably the most helpful. I like being able to look at all the Trinity icons at once to compare styles.
Last Supper Icon
For our review we choose an icon of the Last Supper. One reason for this is through we have been looking, we had not yet found a last supper icon that both my husband and I liked.
You can find the exact icon we ordered at this link.
This Last Supper icon depicts Jesus reclined at a round table. Jesus and the table are outlined in a vibrant gold. And only Jesus has a halo. There are several schools of thoughts on this representation. The majority of similar images of the Last Supper are also Greek in origin, and can either have a round table with the figures around it, or a horizontal table with the figures on the same side. One explanation is that these images, especially if they include the figure of Judas reaching into the bowl, highlight the moment of Matthew 26:20-25, when all of the Apostles wondered which among them was to betray Christ. Another explanation is that this style of Last Supper icon provides a challenge for the icon writer to include all of the halos without obscuring another figure’s face or other parts of the icon.
Overall, I like the feel of the icon. It is printed on a thick wooden block, but it is also not too heavy. Because the back is so thick, it is easy to hold the icon on the sides without covering any of the image. This is particularly great because sometimes I like to hold icons while praying with them, but I don’t want my fingers blocking the image.
The image itself shows the style and feel of a traditional icon. The gold border is very vibrant compared to the rest of the coloration, which I like. There are no faults that I can find in the image itself. The only weakness I can find is at the very top you can see where the sticker could be peeled from. My toddler could probably damage the icon by pulling off some of the print from that spot.
Because the icon is so thick, the hole for mounting it on the wall is nice and deep. I really appreciate that. This icon can hang on the wall without me worrying it will fall. Though it is thick it will not stand up on its own because the bottom edge is rounded. We could also lay it flat on our icon table, or have it propped up.
I am quite happy with this icon of the Last Supper!
The Badger Dad’s Thoughts
The Italian seal on the back of the Icon reads (Google translation):
“Icon of the last supper
In this icon, according to the ancient custom, Christ is not the center, but at the head of the table is an oval table and could be placed next to a full horseshoe: the same shape that occurs in the icon of the descent of the holy spirit in both the cases are present the apostles who represent the Church in assembly. However, while in the icon of Pentecost people sit around the table with their heads surrounded by a nimbus (halo) and holding the book of the Good News (an expression of a descending reality from above) here simple men sit without halo or book for which the only reference and Christ, present in their midst. The color of the table is red symbol of the sacrifice of Jesus for the sake of the Christ man who stands at the head of the table and, as can be well noted, the only person depicted for the whole sitting rests their feet on a stool finished in gold to signify that He can be of a divine nature because of his love he did not extinguish to assume the human nature. The colors of the tunic and the cloak have the same meaning the blue refers to the color of the sky to the supernatural to everything that concerns the Father and therefore to the divine dimension the nimbus that surrounds the head of the Lord and golden symbol of its transcendence and glory within it there is an upside-down tau with writings of the name of God: ‘Ho ‘On’ or ‘I am the One Who Am.’ The characters are arranged in a circle talking to each other discussing on what the Christ announced ‘In truth I tell you one of you betrayed me.’ Not knowing whose talk their agitation is and their looks are confused.”
This particular representation of the Greek “Ho Mystikos Deipnos” (Tainaya Vechirya in Church Slavonic), known in English as The Mystical or Last Supper, is one of my favourite Greek icons. The image shows a very strong emphasis on the person of Jesus Christ, present here in person and Sacramentally in the Most Holy Mysteries (Eucharist). The absence of halos from the righteous Apostles is a bit of a detraction from the overall piece and their inclusion would be a better way to differentiate between the Apostles and Judas the Betrayer. The juxtaposition of St. John the Theologian reclining on the breast of Christ Vis-à-vis Judas dipping his hand into the bowl, is done well and to great symbolic effect. The quality of production of this icon is evident in the feel and finish of the wood, which is dyed red following the ancient Byzantine tradition of placing clay around the edges of an icon. The quality of the icon print is also evident. Overall a very good quality production of a very meaningful icon representation of the Mystical Supper.