The Dormition of the Mother of God

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reference number: RI_035

18th century

tempera on wooden panel in silver-gilt oklad

20.1 x 29.5 cm


maker’s mark: Cyrillic initials M.P. of unidentified master

assay mark: Moscow, circa 1785

The icon painted in the Western style portrays the classical representation of the Dormition of the Orthodox iconography: the Mother of God is shown lying on her deathbed surrounded by the grieving Apostles, Christ in the middle of the composition is receiving the soul of his Mother, represented as a haloed child.  The icon is encased in a heavy gauge silver-gilt oklad repoussé in high relief with a foliate border.


The Dormition of the Mother of God, also known as the Assumption in the Western tradition, is one of the most important feasts of the Virgin. The feast and its associated images had their sources in apocryphal stories and homilies, among which a sermon on the death of the Mother of God by Archbishop John of Thessaloniki (610-649) had the greatest influence on the iconography. According to the legend, the twelve apostles were present at the deathbed of the Mother of God, together with four early Christian writers James, Dionysius the Areopagite, Hierotheos and Timotheos of Ephesus.


 The feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God is celebrated on August 15.

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