Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. 19th century CE. A wonderful icon depicting the Virgin of Intercession, finely painted in egg tempera and gold leaf on wood and labeled above in calligraphic old Cyrillic. The composition presents the Virgin standing full-length turned toward the left in three-quarter pose with her right hand extended and the left holding an unfurled scroll presenting her plea, "My Son and my God, uncontainable Godhead who in humility . . ." interceding with God to bring about the salvation of the faithful bowing at her feet. In the upper right corner, the Lord answers "yes" to the Virgin. The scroll reads in part, "O my Mother and my Creature, since this is your will . . ." Size: 8" W x 10" H (20.3 cm x 25.4 cm)
The "Virgin of Intercession" icon first arose in Constantinople in the fourth century and later spread to Russia. According to Tradigo, "In fourth-century Constantinople the empress (later Saint) Pulcheria had a little church built at the Chalkoprateia (copper market), devoted to the worship of the Virgin's belt inside a holy chest, a relic brought from Jerusalem. The icon kept in this Church had two titles: Chalkopratissa, from the location of the church, and Hagiosoritissa, that is "of the Holy Chest. . . ." This iconographical type became known as the Virgin of Bogoliubovo in Russia, named after Prince Andrei Bogoliubovo. On the night of July 18, 1157, the Virgin appeared to the prince in a dream, making this gesture of supplication to Christ and opening a scroll with a prayer. Following this, the prince had an image of this vision created and then had a monastery built at the location of this apparition, known as the monastery of Bogoliubovo, a reference to this in the central background of this icon.
Icons (icon means "image" in Greek) are sacred objects within the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition. Found in homes as well as churches, these painted images depict holy persons and saints as well as illustrate scenes from the Scriptures. Icons are not worshiped, but are instead venerated for their ability to focus the power of an individual's prayer to God. As such they are truly "windows into heaven."
Provenance: ex-Francis & Lilly Robicsek collection, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
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