Read carefully ‘The will of the painter Angelos Akotantos’ (Anthology, 2.5.1, pp. 225–8). What information does the source provide for the fifteenth-century artist? What are its strengths and its limitations as evidence about his everyday life and work?
Angelos Akotantos has provided us with a brief insight into his world in fifteenth century Candia, the most noticeable trend that can be picked up on is his deep religious beliefs. Angelos begins by denouncing Adam as being the reason humanity should all succumb to the pain of death, as it was due to his ‘disobedience’ that mankind was now ‘in debt to death’ and therefore as an obedient follower of Christ, Angelos must now except his fate willingly (Richardson, C, Woods, K., Franklin, M., 2007, p 225). The Religious undertones continued with his mention of the Varsamonero Monastery and his command that the superior of said monastery should a commemoration 40 days after his death, with a second to beheld in the Christ Kephalas, one of the most famous churches in Candia. These suggest that Angelos has great links with the Christian church, a connection that could have been formed following his creation of numerous iconographic paintings, particularly of Saint Phanourious who is represented in his work and the style of which may have come about following collaborations with Ionas Palamas, the abbot of the Varsamonero Monastery.
Angelos played a key role in the ‘evolution of post-Byzantine art’ and was one of the first to reveal himself ‘at the end of a long line of anonymity’ as the artist by signing his name on his paintings (Lymberopoulou, A., 2007, p 175). His wealthy status can be determined from the reading of his will which mentions his ‘significant number of processions’, in particular his collection of books, one can only assume that these are of great value and quantity as he requests that they are to be passed ‘from child to child’ and if not possible then they were to be sold with charitable donations made instead (Lymberopoulou, A., 2007, p 178 & Richardson, C, Woods, K., Franklin, M., 2007, p 227). It is possible to assume that his wealth was a result of his many paintings for which he could have received payment for, although this is not mentioned in the will, nor are any of his paintings, he does mention charcoal drawings and his desire for his unborn child to ‘learn the art of how to paint’ (Richardson, C, Woods, K., Franklin, M., 2007, p 226).
It is not clear whether the two icons he mentioned that hung in his room, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Nativity of Christ, were in fact two of his own paintings, what is clear though is how fond he was of them, to the point that almost a fifth of his will is detailing what he wants done with them following his death. His travel to Constantinople must have been a worrying time for him especially with his wife expecting their first child and tensions mounting between Constantinople and the Ottoman Turks. His close relationship with...