The Mother of God of Vladimir

Palekh School
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reference number: RI_180

19th century

tempera on wooden panel

31 x 26 cm

The Mother of God is represented half-length, with the Christ Child seated on her right arm tenderly embracing her neck with both his hands. The Virgin is dressed in a moss green embroidered maphorion and the Christ Child wears a red tunic highlighted with gold. The icon is painted in the traditional manner over a gold background with black calligraphic inscriptions in Greek: MP ΘΥ (Μήτηρ Θεοῦ, Mother of God), and IC-XC (Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Jesus Christ). The borders are painted with four family saints: the Holy Martyr Konon of Isauria and the Angel Guardian on the left, the Holy Martyr Alexandra and Saint Basil the Confessor on the right.


The Vladimir Mother of God is one of the most venerated images of the Virgin. The iconographic type, also known as Umilyenie in Russian, and Glykophilousa (She who embraces gently) or Eleousa (She who shows mercy) in Greek, is ultimately derived from the Mother of God Hodegetria. The original icon was brought from Constantinople in 1131 and taken to the city of Vladimir on the river Klyazma in 1155, hence its name. In 1395 the icon was moved to Moscow to protect the city from Tamerlane (the final battle against the Russian troops). The icon was then installed in the Uspensky Cathedral (The Dormition of the Virgin Cathedral) in the Moscow Kremlin where it stayed for centuries later to be moved to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. A great number of replicas of the icon were subsequently produced all over Russia, occasionally with slight variations in their traditional iconography. 

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