Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. 19th century CE. A precious example of the Virgin of the Kiss - Mother of God icon, the finely painted Virgin and Child set beneath a beautiful brass oklad, their vestments and environs further embellished with multi-colored glass beads and stones. The Virgin of the Sweet Kiss is a subject that derives from a prototype purportedly painted by Saint Luke at Ephesus, and believed to be the first icon depicting the Virgin Mary that Prince Vladimir brought to Kiev in 988 CE. Size: 10.5" W x 12" H (26.7 cm x 30.5 cm).
Characteristic of a Mother of God icon, this piece presents the intensely expressive visages of Mary and baby Jesus, their pristine oval faces juxtaposed closely as the Child presses his cheek against his mother’s, the Virgin’s protective, maternal gaze revealing a bittersweet awareness of her son’s fate, returned by Jesus’ sweet, trusting innocence. Their playful hand gestures complements the emotional aspect of this composition.
The icon is fitted with a stunning brass oklad adding a three-dimensional quality to the image - the golden haloes in repousse detailed with lace-like borders, their cloaks and surrounding areas intricately embellished with glass beads and stones. The margin of the frame is further adorned in chaise and repousse with finely executed floral elements and textured 'beadlike' trim.
The oklad or riza, sometimes referred to as a revetment in English, is a metal cover that not only protects the icon, but also serves to honor or venerate the figure(s) depicted on the icon. Oklads are usually adorned with repousse work and pierced to reveal elements of the underlying painting. This brass oklad is complemented by the striking beadwork adorning the Mother of God image.
Provenance: private Francis & Lilly Robicsek Collection, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, acquired second half of the 20th century
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Painted image shows nice craquelure and some areas of encrustation. Oklad with a few areas of minor bending, but overall very good. Some losses to beaded overlay as shown. Back slats on verso intact. Old Russian inventory label on verso.