Inseparable from the liturgical tradition, religious art is seen by Orthodox Christians as a form of pictorial confession of faith and a channel of religious experience. Because the icons provide direct personal contact with the holy persons represented on them, these images were objects of veneration, in either a public or private setting, and were even believed to have the ability to heal.
This icon depicts four saints including Anna and John the Baptist. They stand together, underneath Christ Pantocrator, the awesome ruler of the universe, who emerges from the clouds of heaven. Only the exposed flesh of the figures is painted, most of the composition is covered in a brass oklad. A repoussé technique in high relief has been utilized to produce the folds and curves of the drapery and the effect of the mass of the bodies underneath. The metal itself has also been engraved to delineate the ground on which the figures stand from the geometric background. The borders of the oklad have also been elaborated by a motif of flowers and vines in high relief, while the corners have an engraved floral pattern. The attached brass halos that crown the saints and Christ have been inlaid with colorful enamel, imitating the cloisonné technique utilized in earlier Byzantine examples. The metal not only emulates the luminosity of gold, but also contrasts and emphasizes the softness of the painted flesh. This sumptuous icon is a perfect example of the ornate brilliance that characterizes such sacred objects.