November 1, 2017

 In MOA Artwork of the Week

russian-icon-four-part-icon-two-virgins

Russian Icon, Four-Part Icon: Two Virgins, Christ, St. Nicholas, 19th century, tempera on panel, 14 1/4 x 11 1/4 x 1 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Richard B. Oliver, 1972.

In commemoration of All Saints Day, we feature a four-part Russian icon depicting Christ, the Virgin Mary, and St. Nicholas derived from a centuries-old tradition of Orthodox worshippers using icons to connect with the Divine. At upper left, Christ is portrayed as the Word, the image of God made flesh, as expressed in John 1:14. He is shown holding an open book of scripture and raising his right hand in a gesture of blessing. His halo contains a cross and the Greek letter ho on, meaning, “the being that can be read,” emphasizing Christ as the incarnation of God and the Gospel. St. Nicholas—one of Russia’s most popular saints, revered for his selfless gift giving—is shown in the upper right.

The lower portion contains two different depictions of Mary as the exalted Mother of God. At left, Mary is shown as the Empress of Heaven, hands raised in prayer and benediction, with an image of the young Christ painted over her heart. On the right, Mary exudes merciful tenderness as she embraces her Divine Child. The additional arm on her left side underscores her power to bless the worshipper.

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