2024-05-22

Literary Sources and Iconographic Tradition of Theotokos Icons (Summary)

Wołodymyr Ałeksandrowycz (PDF)
https://doi.org/10.53631/DIS/2010.4.16

In Kyivan Rus’, a distinctive iconography of the Protection of Mother of God was formed under the influence of Byzantine tradition. Its prototypes were Byzantine images of the Mother of God praying before Christ in heaven. The first, a painting of Our Lady of Pyrohoshcha, was brought to Kyiv from Constantinople by the mid-12th century. The earliest derivation of this icon is the Protection of Mother of God painting, created by the late 12th century, which adorns the western gate of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Suzdal.

Since the 13th century, the iconography of the Protection of Mother of God has been influenced by the iconography of Andrew the Fool. The earliest surviving icon from the late 13th to the early 14th century is based on a prototype created in Chelm in the mid-13th century. The hierarchical composition of the icon is based on the general principles of Eastern Christian painting and follows the general iconography of Our Lady. Images of the Protection of Mother of God include the realistic Suzdal icon from the second half of the 14th century, depicting Our Lady in the background of the monastery of Blachernae.

Studies of the dependence of the Protection of Mother of God iconography on literary sources show that contrary to what has been assumed so far, the images of the Mother of God did not illustrate the vision of Andrew the Fool word by word but depended on other literary sources and the broader religious context. In the iconography of the Protection of Mother of God, the emphasis on meaning has shifted over time from protection to the idea of adoration.

Keywords: Kyivan Rus’, Byzantine tradition, Constantinople, Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Suzdal, Andrew the Fool