The Mother of God of Vladimir

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reference number: RI_084

mid-19th century

tempera on wooden panel in silver-gilt oklad

31.6 x 26.9 cm


workmaster’s mark: Cyrillic initial P.G. of an unidentified master

assay master’s mark: Cyrillic initial A.K. of Andrey Kovalsky

assay mark of Moscow, 1851

silver standard: 84 zolotnik


A traditionally painted icon encased in a silver-gilt rococo-style oklad chased with rich floral ornament. The Mother of God is represented half-length, with Christ seated on her right arm tenderly embracing her neck with both his hands, pressing his face to the Mother of God’s cheek. Inscriptions on the background read: MP ΘΥ (Μήτηρ Θεοῦ, Mother of God) and IC-XC (Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Jesus Christ) in Greek, and The Most Holy Mother of God of Vladimir in Old Slavonic.


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 before it was moved to the State Tretyakov Gallery. 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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