The Deisis: The Mother of God

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reference number: RI_178

19th century

tempera on wooden panel

36 x 30 cm

The left panel of a three-piece Deisis (for the left and central panels see: The Deisis: Christ Pantocrator and The Deisis: St John the Baptist) depicts the Mother of God. The Virgin is shown in a three-quarter turn, her glance directed towards the Saviour, her right hand extended in supplication, and her left holding an open scroll inscribed with the words of the Akathist Hymn: “O Heavenly King do Thou accept every man praying to Thee”. The figure is painted against a gold background with red calligraphic inscriptions in Greek: MP ΘΥ (Μήτηρ Θεοῦ, Mother of God). On the borders are three family saints: St. Irina and St. Eudokia on the left side and St. Xenia on the right.


The iconography of Deisis emerged in the Middle Byzantine period (843–1204) as a pictorialisation of the Intercession Prayer, commemorating Christ, the Mother of God and John the Baptist. The Virgin and John the Forerunner appear as intercessors for humanity, representing the New and the Old Testament respectively.

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