The Presentation of Christ in the Temple

Palekh School
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reference number: RI_135

late 19th century

tempera on wooden panel

31 x 27 cm

The icon represents an extended version of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. The subject is based on the Gospel story of the infant Christ being presented to the elder Simeon in the temple (Luke 2:25-32). According to Church tradition, Simeon was one of the translators of the Septuagint. While translating, he came across the words: ”Behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a Son” (Isa. 7:14). As he hesitated over the translation and was going to correct the “virgin” word to “young woman,” the archangel Gabriel appeared to him and told that virgin was, in fact, the correct word to use and that he would live to see the day when this would be fulfilled.


The central scene shows the Holy Family meeting Simeon the God-receiver in the Temple of Jerusalem. The elderly figure of the Righteous Simeon holds the infant Jesus above the sanctuary throne, while Mary makes a gesture of grief which foreshadows her mourning at the Crucifixion. On the left behind the Virgin stand St Joseph and St Anna. On the lower left is the Prophet Isaiah leaning over his manuscript. To the right, is the vision of the righteous coming out and the sinners being cast into Hell. On the bottom right is St Simeon visited by the archangel. The scenes are depicted against a lavish architectural landscape painted in great detail.

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