Icon: Nativity of the Virgin

Icon: Nativity of the Virgin
(click image to zoom-in)
Painting, Tempera on panel and gilding, 90x70.5 cm
Origin: Russia, First half of the 16th century

The Birth of the Virgin is taken from the apocryphal Protoevangeliary of James; the subject was borrowed from Byzantine art by old Russian artists. Anna, mother of Mary, is seated while women bring her gifts; the baby Mary is being washed and in the openings of the upper tier we see Joachim, Mary's father.

The wealth of red, bright yellow and green tones recalls Novgorod icons while the soft outlines of the figures turned towards Anna and their unhurried ceremoniousness find analogies in 16th-century Moscow art. The noticeable variety of scale of the figures and the nature of the painting allow us to attribute this icon to a northern Russian master who used as his models works by both Novgorod and Moscow artists.

Personage: The Mother of God
Source of entry: State Hermitage Expedition, Arkhangelsk Region, 1960
School: North Russian Schools
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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