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Striking 19th C. Russian Icon - Mother of God

$4,495.00
Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. early 19th century CE. Painted in egg tempera and gold leaf on linen on wood, a striking icon depicting the Mother of God (Theotokos) as the Virgin Hodegetria. According to legend, this icon restored the eyesight of two blind men – hence, the name Hodegetria meaning, “She who gives sight” or “shows the way”. The Virgin holds the Child in her left hand and points toward him with her right, directing the attention of worshippers. The baby Jesus, dressed in a regal himation, gives the benediction while facing his mother (a gesture of honor). In addition to its meaningful religious iconography, the artistry and technique displayed are quite impressive. Note the liberal use of gold leaf and the meticulous detailing of the Virgin and Child's vestments, replete with stunning textures and patterns - the dotted patterns on the veil and trim of Mary's robe painstakingly created with a needle. Size: 14.5" W x 17.25" H (36.8 cm x 43.8 cm)

The Hodegetria is an icon that arrived in Constantinople from Jerusalem where the sister-in-law of Emperor Theodosius II found it in the 5th century CE. Hidden from the iconoclasts in a wall at the Hodegon Monastery, it was later carried to the city walls when Constantinople was under siege and became a palladium protecting the capital.

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: Surface wear with some scratches, abraded areas, and chips/losses as shown, commensurate with age. Age cracks as shown. Newer loop for suspension at top center.

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

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