Icons at Maryhill Museum of Art (part 2)

(part 2 of 2 posts)

This is the final continuation of the first post on the icons at Maryhill Museum in Goldendale, Washington. These icons were gifted to Sam Hill by Princess Marie of Romania in 1926.

Mother of God, Joy of All Who Suffer

Mother of God, Joy of All Who Suffer
Mother of God, Joy of All Who Suffer, 19th Century
Egg Tempera on Wood Panel

The original icon of this type was in Moscow by the middle of the seventeenth century. In 1711, it was brought to St. Petersburg and the Tsarina Elizabeth Petrovna built an ornate church for it there. The image was popular throughout Russia during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and was used as a protection against all kinds of illness.

The Mother of God is shown here wearing a crown and holding a scepter in one hand and the crowned Christ Child in the other. A congregation of suffering humans is gathered below her.

Saints at the left:

  • Saints Zosima
  • Theodosia
  • Basil, Paul
  • Peter
  • Haralampos
  • Antipas

Saints at the right:

  • Nikita
  • George
  • Anna
  • Cosmas
  • Damian
  • Nicholas
  • John Chrysostom

The figures in the left border are: Saints Basil the Priest, Makarius, Demetrios and Theodore the Monk.

At the far right are: Saints Artremios, Anastasia, Basil and Mary of Egypt.

The Slavonic text below the Mother of God reads, “O all hymned Mother, bearer of the holiest of the holies Word, accept what we offer now, deliver us from every attack, and deliver from the coming torment all those who cry to you.

Quadripartite Icon with Mandylion

Quadripartite Icon with Mandylion
Quadripartite Icon with Mandylion, late 19th Century
Egg Tempera on Wood Panel

Upper left corner: The Mother of God, The Life-Giving Spring (or Well of Living Water).

Upper right corner: Is a scene reproducing an icon of the Mother of God of Unexpected Joy. It alludes to the story of a man who was praying to the icon as he contemplated committing a misdeed. Noticing wounds on the Mother and Child, he asked, “Who has done this?” The Virgin replied, “You and other sinners.” This conversation is shown coming from the mouths of the man and the Virgin.

The inscription below the icon provides the context – “A sinner was in the habit of praying daily to the most Holy Virgin, reciting the words of the archangel.”

At the lower right and left are two very popular Russian icons: The Fiery Mother of God and the Kazan Mother of God. Our Lady of Kazan is considered the protectress of all Russia and of the Tsarist house of the Romanovs. Miracles have been attributed to this icon since 1579, when the image was dug up by a young girl. It is also thought that the Kazan Mother of God (Kazan Madonna in the West) was first written by St. Luke the Apostle, the first iconographer.

The Mandylion (Icon Not Made by Human Hands) is at the center showing a cloth bearing a miraculous image of Christ’s face. We know this icon in the West by many different names, Veronica’s Veil, Christ the Physician, Christ the Healer, etc. The Mandylion is considered to the be first of all icons, made by the icon Himself, Christ.

Left Border: St. Theodore the Righteous, St. Peter the Apostle, St. John the Evangelist and Archangel Michael

Right Border: St. Mary of Egypt, St. Eudocia, St. Parskevi, St. Charalampos

Sign Mother of God

Mother of the Sign
Sign Mother of God, First Half of 19th Century
Egg Tempera on Wood, Glass Beads, and Glass Jewels

Beaded icons are common in the East, often embroidered with pearls and jewels. This is a form of an Oklad (Russian, meaning covered) or Riza (Russian, meaning robe), which are more typically silvered metal coverings with openings designed to reveal portions of the underlying painted icon. They are designed specifically for the icons they cover as a way to protect them.

This icon depicts the Mother of God during the Annunciation, as she responds to the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1:38): “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to they word.” The terms “Virgin of the Sign” and “Sign Mother of God” refer to the prophesy of Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The image is also referred to as a “Platytera” (Greek, meaning wider or more spacious) which is why she is shown in the orans position (hands open to the sky). By containing the Creator of the Universe in her womb, Mary becomes Platytera ton ouranon (Greek, meaning “More spacious than the heavens”).

The practice of using rizas originated in Byzantine times. They were meant to honor and venerate icons and the Holy figures depicted in them. In churches and in private homes, candles and oil lamps burn near icons. Incense is also a frequent component of church services and personal prayer. Rizas help protect the painted portion of the icon, which can darken over time with this exposure.