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The Mother of God, Joy of all who sorrow (1890 no. 9367)

Central Russia

1700-30 ca.
Room 3
Tempera on wood
31,1x27 cm
1890 no. 9367

The Mother of God sits enthroned while groups of the needy turn to her as their advocate and protector. Depicted on the left are, from the top, the afflicted, the naked and the sinners; from the top right are the wronged, the hungry and the suffering. The inscriptions recall misfortunes and aid brought by the Mother of God in answer to their prayers. Heavenly messengers, angels, bestow blessings on behalf of the Virgin.

The icons of the “Mother of God, Joy of All who Sorrow”, appearing in Russia since the 17th century, are based on the texts of certain Marian prayers, first and foremost a hymn from the Ottoèco, Tone 2: “Joy of all who sorrow, thou art advocate to the helpless, sustenance to the wretched, comfort to the pilgrims, staff to the blind, helper of the weak, protector and intercessory of the weary, helper of orphans and mercy from the Most High, O Most Pure: hasten, we pray thee, to save thy servants.” Contributing to the spread of devotion to this iconographic style was the miraculous healing of a woman attributed to the icon preserved in the Church of the Transfiguration on Ordynka Street in Moscow in 1688.

Unlike the Moscow model, which depicted the Virgin standing, the icon in the Uffizi Gallery depicts Mary enthroned, a traditional theme adapted for the new iconographic style. Like many icons in the Florentine collection, this painting is a provincial reinterpretation of the methods of the masters of the Kremlin Armoury Museum in Moscow from between the 17th and 18th centuries. The throne features Baroque-style decorative elements, the figures exhibit marked plasticity, and the overhanging drapery parts are highlighted with subtle dashes that replicate assist gilding.

Text by
Daniela Parenti
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