Icon, St. Junia, tempera and gold on wood.
Icon paintings in the Byzantine and Russian tradition have different objective than traditional western paintings. An icon painter is not creating a unique and personal expression, they are said to be revealing the icon rather than creating it. Icon art observes very particular rules of composition and color, which are designed to reinforce the theological message. Much of the symbolism was put in place in the fourth century. The inscriptions are necessary elements of the icon; they express the prototype as well as the image itself.