The building of new churches created a need for icons to furnish them, since icons were an indispensable part of religious ceremonial.
In the 18th century, Thessaloniki was an active centre of icon production by named painters, whose works have been discovered throughout the whole of Greece and as far afield as Serbia and Bulgaria.
In the 19th century the painting of icons acquired the character of a cottage industry. The painters, who came mainly from villages in central Macedonia, used as their models engravings from Mount Athos, the origins of which guaranteed their doctrinal authority.
Towards the end of the 19th century several icon painters broke their links with the Byzantine tradition under the influence of the Nazarene movement in Athens, the aim of which was the "improvement" of Byzantine painting.