8 June 2011
CENTRAL RUSSIA, BEGINNING OF THE 18TH CENTURY.
31.5 by 27.5 cm.
The Vladimir Mother of God of Tenderness is one of the most adored images in Rus; this tradition originated with the famous 12th century Byzantine image from the Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir, which was later taken to the Dormition Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. Apart from exact copies of the ancient relic (for example, by Simon Ushakov), there were also reproductions based on original works.
Our icon belongs to the latter category and is entirely within the distinctive Russian tradition, in which the original severe features of the Virgin are replaced by a tender and quiet sor- row. The icon painter has managed to convey the emotional heart of the image: the Virgin’s eyes nurse an inner sadness with the slight downwards curve of their outer corners and the drooping long eyebrows, grief can also be read in the firmly closed lips. The delineation of the infant’s face is schematic: its smooth roundness is uninterrupted by the eye sockets, cheekbones and chin, and yet this seeming imperfection emphasises the infant’s intimacy towards his mother, his love and “caress”.
The icon belongs to the style of Russian icon painting that was dominant until the mid 17th century and which did not reflect the new ‘lifelike’ methods that became a distinguishing feature of the Kremlin Armoury.
Deference to this image is reflected in the rich, silver-gilt ok- lad, decorated with a busy chased floral design, but the centrepiece is the massive crown supported by two angels, with four repoussé cherubim in-between the five traditional tips and the twin haloes enhanced by four semi-precious stones. The pronounced feature of this oklad is the striking Baroque ornamentation. This ‘clash’ of styles – the severity of the faces and luxuriance of the oklad – give distinction to this historic artefact.
Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.