The Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow (1890 n.9316)
Depicted at the centre of the icon are the Mother of God and baby Jesus, both bearing symbols of royalty such as the crown. There are four sufferers and two angels on each side of the compositions, featuring almost symmetrical poses and gestures. In addition to the monograms of Christ and Mary above their halos (“IHC XC”, “MP ΘY”), the top inscription identifies the subject of this work: “ОБРАЗ Б(ОГОРО)Д(И)ЦЫ СКОРБЕЩИЕ”, i.e., “Image of the Mother of God, Joy of All who Sorrow”. This icon, popular in Russian art from the end of the 17th century onwards, emphasises Mary's role as an intermediary and protector, invoked by the prayers of the needy, and reflects the subject of an icon believed to be miraculous preserved in the Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour on Bol'šaja Ordynka street in Moscow. The version depicted in the Uffizi icon, which is small in size, offers a reduced variant of the original icon model with a substantial decrease in the number of figures crowding around the Virgin Mary. The simplification of this composition, which is also reflected in the rather sketched pictorial drafting, characterises several modestly sized icons in the Uffizi collection from provincial workshops in central Russia. Another theme in these icons is the somewhat naive expressiveness that characterises the faces of the figures.