Coptic Art

..and here is a newly discovered 15th-century Coptic icon

Shawn Tribe who writes at the New Liturgical Movement website just posted this image. It is a newly discovered ancient icon. Having described  Stephane Rene's neo-Coptic style as a more polished form of the 'folksy' original Coptic style, here comes something to disprove my point! This is 15th century but it reflects high level of drawing skill. One of the great difficulties when I paint in the iconographic or the gothic style is conforming to the style, yet still managing to have the figure to read anatomically and the clothing to drape naturally so that the folds reflect the figure underneath. The artist seems to have taken great care, for example, with the blue shawl of Our Lady to do this.

The Coptic Church is one of the Oriental Orthodox churches.  The Oriental Orthodox churches are those Christian bodies that broke away with Rome in the wake of the Council of Chalcedon in 451, over disagreements on the christological doctrines affirmed by that council. The Oriental Orthodox churches include the Armenian Apostolic, Syrian, and Coptic Orthodox—but not the larger Russian, Greek, and other Orthodox churches of the Byzantine tradition. The Pope has fostered dialogue with these ancient churches. writes about this here.

Two More Neo Coptic Icons by Dr Stephane Rene

Further to the recent posting about a Coptic style Stella Maris icon, here are two more icons by Dr Stephane Rene in his ‘neo-Coptic’ style. They were sent to me by two people who read the previous article. St Joseph of the House of David and Mary Mother of the City are in St Joseph’s Catholic church, in Bunhill Row in the City of London. I remember this Church because it is just around the corner from the offices of the Catholic Herald, where I once worked. They come courtesy of a reader who brought them to my notice. So if you're reading thank you Martin Pendergast, and to you Sr Jean for supplying the images.

The name derives from the fact that St Joseph, although poor was of the Royal House of David. There are four narrative scenes from the gospel in each corner. The one of the Holy Family in a boat is depicting them on the Nile - representing the period of exile. Notice also the beautiful patterned border that Dr Rene has designed.


In this huge icon (3 metres x 2 metres). Mary is shown coming from an enclosed garden (a reference to the sybolism in the Song of Songs). The peacock is a traditional symbol of eternal life. The stream flowing from a cave represents the womb from which Christ emerged to live among us and give us the living water.