Icon: Our Lady Eleousa

Icon: Our Lady Eleousa
(click image to zoom-in)
Painting, Tempera on panel and gilding, 33.8x28 cm
Origin: Russia, Second half of the 16th century

One of the many types of image of the Virgin is that known as Eleousa, in which the Virgin tenderly embraces the Christ Child. Its iconography developed in Byzantium and was widespread throughout medieval European art, but the type appears particularly frequently in the icons of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Virgin inclines her head, supporting and embracing the Child, who presses His cheek to hers. With His right hand He touches His mother's chin, holding a furled scroll in His left.

Reverence for this type of image in Russia led to numerous repetitions, which, while reproducing the iconographical specifics of the type, were never copies. Small changes and variations might be introduced to create new, no less revered, versions of the image, such as those known as the "Virgin of the Don" and the "Virgin of Vladimir".

This icon was produced in the second half of the 16th century. It reveals the influence of Moscow traditions, particularly in the iconography, the restrained colouring and the severity of the Virgin's face.

Personage: The Mother of God and Child
Source of entry: State Museum of Ethnography of the Peoples of the USSR, Leningrad, 1941
School: Moscow
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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