Ascent of the Prophet Elijah

Ascent of the Prophet Elijah, circa 1290 C.E. Tempera on board, Palazzo Leoni Montanari, Vicenza, Italy.

This 13th-century Russian icon painting from Novgorod, one of the oldest cities in Russia, was created during a low period in Russian history. Tartar invaders had recently sacked the city. The devastation resulted in greatly reduced artistic production, and very few artistic works survive from this place and time. This rare example from that period shows the ascent of Elijah into heaven as a reward for his stance against paganism. Three horses fly skyward, drawing Elijah and his chariot up into heaven. The prophet Elisha appears in the lower left corner, witnessing the spectacle. Elisha remains on earth as Elijah’s successor.