A prophet and the third greatest king of Israel, the legendary ruler of the United Monarchy from 965 to 928 BC at its zenith. The son of David and Virsavia (the wife of Uriah – Matthew, 1:6) and his co-ruler in 967 – 965 BC. He is ascribed the authorship of the Book of Ecclesiast, Song of Songs, the Book of Proverbs and some psalms. During Solomon’s reign, the First Temple – the greatest Judaic sanctity - was built. The name of Solomon means “peaceful”. Other name of Solomon, given by God through Nathan is Jedidia meaning “Beloved of God” (2 Kings, 12:25).
The traditional iconography portrays King Solomon as a young and beardless man wearing royal vestment (typically a red or brown mantle, fixed with a fibula on his right shoulder, a blue tunic or dalmatic with golden edging and red shoes) and a crown. The traditional attribute of Solomon is the First Temple. In his hand David holds an unfolded (less often folded) scroll. The altar mosaics of the catholicon of the St. Catherine Monastery on Sinai (560 – 565 AD) preserved an early image of Solomon depicting him shoulder-length inside a round medallion. In the Russian iconography Solomon was often portrayed half-length, such as on the icons of King Solomon and Isaiah (the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, 1425-1427), King Solomon (State Russian Museum, the mid-15th century), Daniel, David and Solomon (State Tretyakov Gallery, ca. 1497), The Prophets Solomon and Isaiah (the Yaroslavl Art Museum the 1560s – 1570s), King Solomon. The Crucifixion. John the Baptist. State Tretyakov Gallery, ca. 1589). In the prophets’ tier of the high iconostasis the Solomon icon is placed left to the Theotokos or in the central row.
In Russian churches the figures of prophets were often placed on wall arch under the central drum. The figure of Solomon was usually depicted in pair with David, often close to the altar space; often encountering among them are full-length icons (such as in the St. George Church in Staraya Ladoga, ca. 1167) and half-figures (the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, in the composition of the Laudation of the Mother of God (1481), shoulder-length images in medallions (on the frescoes of the Assumption Church on Volotovo pole and in the Assumption Church in Vladimir (1408).
The feast day of the prophet Solomon is celebrated on the Holy Forefathers Week.
Zhanna G. Belik,
Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.
Olga E. Savchenko,
research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.
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