Russian icon | Smolenskaya Mother of God

Icon: Smolenskaya Mother of God T-15

Central-Russia, first half 17th century
Tempera on wood, 31 x 26 cm
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The Mother of God is depicted from her waist up, slightly turning towards Christ. She wears a blue tunic and a dark brown maphorion (mantle). Her mantle is decorated with fine gold highlights, accentuating the fall of the folds. Holding Christ on her left arm, the Mother of God is pointing at Him as the source of salvation for mankind. Christ is depicted facing the viewer, holding a closed scroll, fastened with black cords, and making a sign of blessing with his right hand. His undergarment is a blue tunic. His orange-ochre robe has a refined pattern of gold highlights.

This iconographic type, known in Russia as the Mother of God Smolenskaya, is a variant of the Byzantine Hodegetria. A copy of the Byzantine prototype was painted shortly after 1456 for the Annunciation cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin and was glorified with the name ‘Smolenskaya’. It became particularly venerated after 1514 when Smolensk was incorporated into the Russian state. From the 15th–16th centuries onwards it became one of the most revered images of the Virgin in Russia.