Icon: Smolenskaya Mother of God

Number: 057 Period: 1861
Name: Icon: Smolenskaya Mother of God Size: 31 x 28 cm
Origin: Russia Price: sold

This iconographic type, known in Russia as the Mother of God Smolenskaya, was a variant of an earlier Byzantine icon known as the ‘Hodegetria’ (Gr. ‘she who shows the way’).

According to legend this icon had been painted from life by St Luke. An icon of this type was brought to Russia in the 11th century by the Byzantine princess Anna as part of her dowry at the time of her marriage to Prince Vsevolod of Kiev (1030–93).  The icon is named Smolenskaya, because it was kept in the Dormition cathedral in Smolensk. 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 and was widely copied. It was credited with having saved the Russian state from invaders, including the defeat of Napoleon at the battle of Borodino in 1812.

The icon of the Smolenskaya is celebrated July 28.

The Mother of God is depicted from the waist up holding the Christ child. Christ is portrayed in an erect frontal pose, blessing with his right hand and holding a closed scroll in his left. The Virgin wears a purple ‘maphorion’.  Christ wears an orange/ochre ‘himation’ and a green tunic underneath.

The icon is enclosed by silver revetment (‘oklad’) decorated with embossed floral ornament.

Inscriptions: in Greek on two banners flanking the Virgin’s head: MP ΘY (Mother of God); above Christ’s head: IC ΧC (Jesus Christ); on Christ’s halo: Greek letters in the halo: O ΩN (= I am who I am)

On the right border Saint Alexis, the man of God, is depicted.

The silver revetment (oklad) is hallmarked: Moscow, 84 standard, dated 1861, assayers mark in Cyrillic L.S.


An Archive of sold Icons can be found on:RussianIcons.amsterdam