Icon: Appearance of the Virgin to St Sergius

Icon: Appearance of the Virgin to St Sergius
(click image to zoom-in)
Painting, Tempera on panel and gilding, 30x25.3 cm
Origin: Russia, Early 17th century, Workshop in the Trinity Monastery of St Sergius

This work was painted before 1621/22 by a master at the Trinity Monastery of St Sergius, some 70km from Moscow. Its subject comes from a legend of the appearance of the Virgin, the apostles Peter and John to the Blessed St Sergius of Radonezh, in the presence of a pupil.

The name of Sergius of Radonezh , founder of the Trinity Monastery of St Sergius, is forever linked with the Russian people's struggle against the Tatar-Mongol yoke. It was he who provided spiritual support, blessing the Moscow Prince Dmitry Donskoy and predicting his victory in battle. For six months before his death Sergius of Radonezh made his experienced pupil Nikon Father Superior, and Nikon also went on to be the object of cult worship.

Thus to the left we see the Virgin and the apostles, and to the right Sergius and his pupil and successor Nikon. At the top in a semicircle is the Trinity of the Old Testament - three angels seated at a meal table.

The Trinity Monastery of St Sergius was a major centre of icon production in the 16th and 17th centuries. Icons were painted by many in the monastery itself and in the special settlement of icon painters nearby.

Personage: The Mother of God
Source of entry: Exchange Fund of the State Hermitage Museum, 1959
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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