The Virgin Episkopi or Virgin of Gonia. The church of Episkopi at Mesa Gonia is the most important Byzantine monument on Thera. virgin-2The Emperor of Byzantium Alexios I Comneos (1081-1118) is acknowledged as the founder and donor of the church, which was perhaps originally the katholikon of a monastery. The interior of Episkopi was decorated completely with wall-paintings, most probably commissioned by the emperor, but during the period of Ottoman Rule these were covered over with plaster.
Some wall-paintings have been revealed and cleaned. Judging from the quality of the painting of the ensemble preserved, these can be characterized as provincial works in a folk vein. The artist at Episkopi was a skilled portraitist, able to imbue the faces of the figures with expressive power, but inept at creating well-balanced compositions. The figures in the representations of the Resurrection of Christ (Anastasis) and the Dormition of the Virgin (Koimesis), with their large heads and disproportionately large hands, are reminiscent of wall-paintings in Cappadocia. The modeling of the flesh on the highly virgin-1schematic faces is almost flat with variations of the same colour tone. The depictions of saints, although displaying common characteristics, are differentiated by details in the hairstyle or the garments, which frequently enable identification. This reinforces the theory that ready-made patterns or stencils of saints circulated in the painting workshops, with the result that the same saints in different monuments are very similar.
Anastasios Orlandos proposed that the painter of Episkopi was of Eastern provenance. According to him, the wall-paintings could not be dated to the eleventh century because the drapery of the garments falls softly, without the undulations frequently encountered in painting of that period. He was reluctant, however, to place them in the twelfth century because the figures lack the 'dryness' and expressionless line characteristics of painting at that time. He opted for a date around 1100, at the turn from the tense style of the eleventh century, clearly influenced by the art of the Capital in the linear style and schematization of the twelfth century.

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