Byzantine and Russian Orthodox icons are perhaps the most enduring form of religious art ever developed--and one of the most mysterious. This book, featuring the painted panels made for churches and for prayer at home, provides an accessible guide to their story and power. Illustrated mostly with Cretan, Greek, and Russian examples from the British Museum, which houses Britain's most important collection of icons, the book examines icons in the context of the history of Christianity, as well as within the perspective of art history. Robin Cormack, a preeminent expert on the subject, explains how icons were made, framed, and displayed. He investigates their subject matter, showing how scenes can be identified, how the iconography developed over centuries, and what role portraiture plays in their imagery. Icons have not lost their power in much of the world, and Cormack considers their continuing use in our day--whether in a religious setting or as an inspiration to modern-day artists like Matisse. A uniquely accessible and authoritative introduction to this distinctive art form, "Icons" defines its subject's unusual place at the intersection of religion, Russian culture, and art history.