Temple Gallery

Established 1959


BZ09. Virgin of Tikhvin
Russian, 17th century
Tempera on gesso on wood
Panel: 31.9 x 26.3 x 2.5 cmClick here to convert metric size to imperial
Condition: minor restoration, old repairs to the gesso ground. The icon once had a silver riza (revetment)
Provenance: German art market
Feast Day: 26th of June
£7,000 [Sold]Click here to convert price to USD or EUR



The Mother of God is shown half-length with a green veil and wearing a red-ochre maphorion decorated with three gold stars signifying her cosmic status. Her head is inclined to her left and she looks directly at the viewer while supporting the infant Christ in her left arm. She raises her right in a gesture that draws our attention towards the Son. Christ looks left as though contemplating eternity, a scroll in his left hand, his right raised in blessing and the right foot displaying the naked sole. His himation is a paler shade of red-ochre and covered with elaborate gold assist (light reflexes). The type is a variant of the Byzantine Hodegetria, the great tenth century icon that protected Constantinople.

The Tikhvinskaya protected the city of Tikhvin and soon became a celebrated and much loved image throughout Russia. A sixteenth century manuscript recounts its miraculous origins by the shores of Lake Lagoda in 1383.1 It miraculously saved the Tikhvin monastery from the invading Swedish army in 1613. The original icon (Fig. 1) was looted in 1941 and later was in the Orthodox cathedral of Chicago before being returned to Russia in 2004.

Fig. 1. Theotokos of Tikhvin, Russia, ca. 1300.
Tikhvin Monastery

Detail: Back of Panel


  1. The Tales of Miracles of the Icon of the Tikhvin Mother of God. A text dated to the sixteenth century which recounts four separate apparitions involving the Tikhvinskaya. [return]