The Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, with the Legend of the Icon
The Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God is not only one of the most celebrated Russian Orthodox icon types, but it is also said to be among the first images painted by Saint Luke the Evangelist. The one you see in the picture features 16 border scenes designed to tell the story of the piece. It was painted back in the third quarter of the 19th century by masters from the icon painting centers in the Vladimir region. Except for restoration tonings and insertions, the work is in a good state and is a real gem of our antique icon collection. What do we know about it?
The Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God, with the legend of the icon
To understand what is depicted in the icon, one needs to pay attention to the border scenes. Such a type of composition made its appearance in Russian iconography in the 16th century. It was based on the tale about the miracles of the Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God, which, according to the church traditions, made seven different appearances and revelations. The most important one happened on the shores of the river called Tikhvinka, where the sacred work was handed to the faithful. In that very place, people would later build a wooden church and a convent around it. The complex then suffered three fires, and yet neither of them harmed the holy icon.
Starting from the 17th century, the popularity of the Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God began to grow dramatically. It led to the expansion of the above-mentioned tale, the final literary version of which was completed by the icon painter Herodion Sergeev in 1658. The scenes of the Miracle of the Iron Cross and the Revelation of the Icon to the Fisherman on Lake Nevo attest to the fact that the piece of religious art you now see belongs to the final iconographic variation. Besides, you might have noticed that there are almost no traditional border scenes with miraculous healing from the icon. Only the last graphic element bears such a depiction, which makes this particular image even more interesting for experts.
Icons like this one were popular among the Old Believers. What we know for sure is that they were usually commissioned for chapels and homes. Traditional execution and an abundance of scenes on one panel are the main distinguishing attributes of the Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God that we are happy to have in our collection.