Copyright 2010 College of Saint Benedict. All rights reserved.
Artifacts; Original Drawings, Paintings, Icons, Calligraphy;
This object was both dry and damp cleaned according to directions from a conservation expert when it was received at Clemens Library.
The original painting on a flat, rectangular panel of plywood cut cross-grain depicts the three-quarter length figure of the Mother of God wrapping the full-length, standing figure of her child, Jesus Christ, in an embrace. The sides and back of the panel are painted black.
The panel face is bordered with a deep green band decorated with raised, repeated sprig-like designs painted in metallic silver and gold paint. A narrow silver band delineates the decorated border from the picture. The Russian inscription in a band of red letters across the top of the image gives the icon’s title.
The figures are set in a sheltered space, open to the outside. It is bounded by a balustrade with pillars supporting arches that appear to be capped with a dome or roof. To the right a red curtain is drawn back; to the left, palm trees are visible in the distance. A shower of silver dots and slashes surrounds the mother and child, who gaze tenderly into each other’s eyes.
The Christ Child stands on Mary’s lap, his left arm raised and wrapped around Mary’s neck and his right hand reaching for her flowing dark brown tresses that fall from beneath her veil. Christ is clothed in a short white gown with long sleeves. His feet are bare. His head is covered in abundant, stylized curls. Around his head is a halo marked with a cross and inscribed with the Greek abbreviation for “the one who is”, identifying Christ as God (See Exodus 3.14). Near the figure of the Child is the abbreviated Greek inscription that identifies him as Jesus Christ.
Mary’s inner robe is deep red, highlighted in gold, with gold, “bejeweled” bands. Her mantle is deep blue edged in gold. Her veil is rose, banded in gold and set with “jewels”. She catches her Child in the crook of her right arm. Right and left hands are crossed, nearly clasped. The title identifying Mary as the Mother of God is inscribed in Greek abbreviations near her figure.
There are thirteen unsigned icons (1.013-1.1.025) that bear resemblance to two icons—Archangels Michael and Raphael—that Mary Sullivan sent to Sharon Froehle and that now hang in the CSB Development office. Mary Sullivan verified that those two, unsigned icons were written by Tatiana Ronskaya. The similarities between those and these thirteen icons in the Sullivan bequest include the fact that all have boards prepared similarly: they are all thick plywood boards, very straight and flat; all are painted or stained on sides and back (which, unlike the panel face, are not gessoed.) Decorative embellishments, especially border designs, are raised. Only the icon of Saints Peter and Paul (1.025) does not have a raised design on its border. The style of painting is very similar. The calligraphy inscribing the images is quite carefully executed in each case.