Harrowing of Hell and the Resurrection c.17th century
Tempera, gilding and silvering
32cm x 27cm
Loaned by the University of Liverpool Museum and Galleries
The Harrowing of Hell and the Resurrection
The Anastasis is celebrated on Easter Saturday. This icon illustrates the dogma that when Christ dies on the Cross he descended into Hell, where he brought Redemption to the souls who had lived before him. In English it is called the Harrowing of Hell. The image is a traditional one…The figure of Christ tramples on the gates of hell over the abyss, with his right hand he pulls Adam towards him, Eve waits her turn with her hands veiled. Behind Adam and Eve are kings, prophets and priests of the old dispensation, none are identified but David, Solomon and John the Baptist are always among them. Below are two angels attacking the prone figure of the Devil. In the foreground, separated from the Harrowing of Hell by a mountain, is the Resurrection, showing Christ climbing out of a sarcophagus above the sleeping guards. This is a Western image…It was much used in the Italian Renaissance and came to Orthodox iconography from the West in the late seventeenth century.
(Text from booklet: Icons presented by Professor Robert Roaf FRCS in the University of Liverpool Gallery, 1986)
The Roaf Icon Collection
The icons were donated to Liverpool University by Professor Robert Roaf who was Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University from 1964 to July 1976. After graduating from Oxford in 1934, with a first class honours degree in physiology, he qualified in medicine in 1937. In 1939 he was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, in 1942 of the Royal College of Surgeons in England, and in 1946 he achieved the Mastership in Orthopaedic Surgery. Professor Roaf showed academic interest in his subject very early, and this was recognised by his appointment in the University as part-time lecturer in 1947, and in 1955 as Director of Clinical Studies and Research at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry. He held appointments as consultant orthopaedic surgeon not only to the Liverpool Teaching Hospital, but also to several hospitals in the Region. His research work on spinal deformities gained him international recognition, and he travelled widely, teaching and demonstrating over the Indian Sub-Continent and Africa as well as in Europe, America, Russia, South East Asia and China. He was consulted at a national level on orthopaedic problems, and was a member of the Central Accident Services Review Committee set up by the National Health Service. Professor Roaf was also a Member of the General Medical Council and from 1971-74 was Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University.
(Taken from the Liverpool University biographical records)