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The Nativity of the Mother of God (1890 n. 9350)

Central Russia

1725-1750 ca.
Room 3
Tempera on wood
32 x 26.8 cm
1890 n. 9350

At the centre of the composition, Anne lies in bed after giving birth with her newborn daughter Mary and her spouse Joachim beside her. To the right, the moment the elderly married couple met at the Golden Gate of Jerusalem upon Joachim’s return from the desert is depicted, with an embrace representing Mary's prodigious conception. To the right, the two parents are depicted in domestic intimacy with their little daughter, a scene entitled 'Joachim and Anne's Affection for Mary’.

Narrated in apocryphal texts, the Nativity of the Virgin is one of the major feasts of the Orthodox Christian liturgical year. The depiction appears at a very early date in the Byzantine period, though the Uffizi icon exposes its modernity by including the other two episodes, which were introduced in Russian icon painting only between the 16th and 17th centuries.

The work is characterised by marked Baroque architectural features with columns and arches embellished with volutes and plant motifs. This wealth of Baroque decorations does not, however, reflect an update in naturalistic architectural language, as evidenced by the absence of perspective and unusual column bases, which are slimmer than the columns themselves. This icon does not seem to be comparable to any other piece in the Uffizi Galleries' collection, although it shares the culture underlying the icon's stylistic and iconographic characteristics with many of them, derived from the methods of the masters of the Kremlin Armoury Museum.

Text by
Daniela Parenti
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