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Poignant 19th C. Russian Icon Virgin Soothe My Sorrows

Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. 19th century CE. A poignant icon delineated in egg tempera and gold leaf on wood depicting the Virgin of "Soothe My Sorrows" - the pensive Mother Mary with one hand on her temple looking quite sad, and the other holding the Christ Child - though he actually floats quite freely within her mantle as if bodiless. The baby Jesus is unfurling a scroll with the words, "Judge righteous judgment, and act mercifully and magnanimously." The name of this icon derives from a prayer to the Virgin: "Soothe the pain in my soul." She symbolizes the mother of all sorrows, and her favorite children are all who suffer as she has. Four patron saints occupy the margins. All is rendered in brilliant jewel tone hues, with liberal use of gold leaf. Size: 12.25" L x 10.625" W (31.1 cm x 27 cm)

This icon type was brought to Moscow by the Cossacks in 1640, at the time of the Tsar Alexis I Mikhailovich. It was placed in the Church of St. Nicholas at Pupyshi in Moscow and brought about many miracles, particularly during the plaque of 1771. Several copies were made and one was brought to St. Petersburg in 1765 to be put in the Church of the Ascension. Many churches, in fact, were dedicated to this icon. According to Tradigo, "The image expresses the deep suffering felt by Mary when she saw her only son unjustly killed on Golgotha. The Virgin relived that sorrow during her long years of solitude, until she was assumed in to Heaven and received consolation, in the Dormition, for her pain." In the same way Mary takes the sorrows of all humanity upon herself." (p. 212)

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."

Condition: This icon shows some nice areas of craquelure, normal surface wear with areas of loss to pigment and gold leaf as shown, and slight losses to peripheries. Verso shows intact back slat and inactive insect holes. Wired for suspension.

Provenance: ex-Francis & Lilly Robicsek Collection, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

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