The Nativity of the Mother of God (Inv. 1890 no. 9303)

Central Russia
1730-1740 c.
Room 2
Tempera on wood
12,9 x 11,5 cm
1890 no. 9303

The mother of the Virgin Mary, Anne, rests after giving birth on a bed of straw and, as we can imagine from her hand gestures, converses with her husband Joachim, sitting to the right. Two young women, their heads adorned with chaplets, present gifts to the new mother, beside whom a table has been set. The composition is finished off with a scene on the lower right in which a handmaid bathes the new-born Mary. This icon is characterised by numerous secondary figures taken from the apocryphal Gospels, specifically the Protoevangelium of James, and brings together the moments of the Virgin's birth and bathing. It belongs to an icon type in which an abridgement of a sacred event is offered, summarising key moments, unlike other icon styles that, following Byzantine figurative art series tradition, illustrate an event in greater detail. Similar to other icons in the Uffizi collection dating from the 18th century, the work is characterised by painting that is not overly refined, reduced to its essential elements, as evidenced by the limited range of colours used and the fairly schematic shaping of the figures.

Daniela Parenti