Russian Brass and Enamel Icon
The Mother of God Kazanskaya
Material: brass and polychrome enamel
Dimensions: 5.3 x 5.8cm
Period: 19th century
On this portative traveller icon the Russian most venerated image of Virgin is represented, that is the Mother of God Kazanskaya. The icon is made in casted and incised brass with background and borders in polychrome champlevé enamel. At the top it is provided with one central pierced knob for suspension.
The Mother of God is portrayed as a frontal bust figure with her head slightly inclined towards the Infant Jesus represented as a standing ¾-lenght figure pointing with his right hand to the Virgin with a gesture of blessing while his left hand is covered by the folds of his himation. The Mother of God wears a hooded cloak - maphorion covering her head and shoulders, and marked with a six-point star indicating her status of the Queen of Heaven but also symbolising her virginity. The border of the maphorion is decorated with a row of incised dots. Both figures have large aureoles and they are identified by abbreviations in Greek letters MP OY and IC XC in the upper left and right corners. The background is filled by a latticework and dark-blue champlevé enamel, while the border of the icon is decorated by a series of lozenges with bright-green champlevé enamel.
According to the style and manufacturing technique the icon can be dated in the 19th century.
This iconographic version of the Virgin and Child, derived from the Byzantine prototype known as the Hodegetria, first appeared in Russia in the second half of the 16th century. According to legend the icon was miraculously revealed in 1579 in the city of Kazan – formerly capital of the Tatars – shortly after the city had been conquered by Tsar Ivan IV ‘the Cruel’. The wonder-working icon was uncovered at the site of a burned out house thanks to a vision which appeared to a girl named Matrona. A monastery was later erected at the site of the house in honour of the icon. This image was glorified in later Russian history as a Holy protector of the country and subsequently became the most widely revered image of the Virgin.*
All the presented dates are given to the best of our knowledge. For all further information please contact us.
For additional reading please see Russian Bronze and Brass Traveller Icons.
*Literary source for iconography explanation “A catalogue of the Russian icons in the British Museum” (online research catalogues)