Temple Gallery

Established 1959

Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple - exhibited at the Temple Gallery, specialists in Russian icons

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D008. Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple
'Candlemass' Vvedenye vo Khram,

Russian, 19th century
Panel: 31.9 x 27.9 cm Click here to convert metric size to imperial
Provenance: Temple Gallery, Christmas Exhibition 2007, private collection UK
£4,200Click here to convert price to USD or EUR

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The feast of the Virgin’s presentation, which falls on 21st November, is one of the five Marian ‘Great Feasts’. Its source is from two apocryphal books, the Protevangelion, also known as the Book of James, and the Gospel of pseudo-Matthew.

The occasion depicted is the ancient Jewish custom of presenting a male or female child to a priest at the temple soon after birth. In Orthodoxy, Mary’s presentation foreshadows the Nativity. The three year old Mary is presented by her parents Joachim and Anna into the temple where she is received by Zacharias the high priest.

She was one of seven virgins each holding a candle and each set to spin skeins of wool of different colour. Mary was given the royal purple that would become the veil of the temple. Mary subsequently ascends a seven-stepped stairway on top of which she is 'fed by angels'.

See Kazhdan, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Vol. III, OUP 1991
Lossky and Ouspensky The Meaning of Icons, Olten 1952
Paul Underwood, The Kariye Djami, vol, 3, Princeton, 1964.

Detail Images