A LARGE AND INTERESTING RUSSIAN ICON OF THE PSKOV-CAVES MOTHER OF GOD, 19TH CENTURY. The offered icon, as attested by the inscription on the lower margin, is based on the Vladimir type. It shows Mother and Child in a tender cheek to cheek embrace. The prototype of the icon is housed in the main chapel of Assumption Cathedral of the Pskov-Caves Monastery. In gratitude for Her protection against the siege of the Polish army in 1581, the icon was ornately embellished with pearls, diamonds, sapphires and amethysts as depicted here. Later, in memory of the deliverance of Pskov from Napoleon's invasion 1812, a gold riza and halo embellished with diamonds and gemstones was added. The offered icon is a unique and interesting example of icons painted in the trompe l'oeil technique. A method employed so that the original gilded riza covering the icon and any other embellishments are painted in such a way to look as if they are real. In this example, the iconographer has successfully created the illusion of three dimensions. Through clever shading the repoussed areas and haloes appear to be raised. The pearl and gem encrusted veil of the Virgin is also convincingly rendered, all being based on the original as displayed in situ. Such icons were a more affordable alternative to an exact replica made of gilded silver and genuine gemstones. The inscription along the lower margin reads, "The Image of Pskov-Caves Tenderness Most Holy Mother of God, Vladimir." 28 inches x 20.5 inches (71 x 52 cm).