Temple Gallery

Established 1959


BZ10. Protection of the Mother of God (Pokrov)
Russian, late 18th century
Tempera and gold on gesso on wood
Panel: 31.5 x 26.8 cmClick here to convert metric size to imperial
Condition: very good condition
Inscription: ПОКРОВА ПРЕС[ВЯ]ТЫЯ Б[ОГОРОДИ]ЦЫ; translit; Pokrova Presvyatuiya Bogoroditsui; Protection of [the] Most Holy Mother of God
Provenance: German art market
Feast Day: 14th of October (Old Calendar 1st October) traditionally regarded in Russia as the first day of winter
£2,450Click here to convert price to USD or EUR

Detail 1

Detail 2


Detail 3

The Protecting Veil (Pokrov) is a much loved iconographic type in Russia. It illustrates an event that took place in the Blachernae Cathedral in Constantinople in the ninth century. The feast was developed in Russia at the instigation of the Grand Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal, Andrei Bogolyubsky, in the 12th century but is unknown in Greece. In the upper part is the miraculous apparition of the Mother of God (Theotokos) standing on a red celestial cloud and spreading her veil in protection over the people and attended by archangels and saints.

In the top left-hand corner of the icon, we see Christ, the source of the Virgin’s protective power, giving his blessing. In the lower part is a representation of the earthly sphere where in the corners we see the Byzantine emperor, Leo VI and his wife Zoe. In the centre, on the raised dais, is Saint Romanos the Melodist, the greatest of the sixth century Byzantine poets and hymnographers, and next to him the Patriarch Tarasios and his entourage. St Andrew the Wise points out the vision, which only he could see, to his disciple Epiphanius.

Romanos is included here because his feast day is the same as the Pokrov, the 1st of October. This date is an important feast in Russia and traditionally signifies the beginning of winter.

An early example is in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. (Fig. 1)

Fig. 1. The Protecting Veil, Novgorod, late 14th - early 15th century, The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Detail: Back of Panel