You are here

Three-Handed Mother of God

Back to search results

Three-Handed Mother of God

Made by: Vasilevskii, R. V. __ __Icon ||Maslennikov, Iakov __ __Oklad

Currently in storage

About this object

In this icon from the era of Empress Elizabeth I (reigned 1741-1761), the painter's efforts to render tear ducts, eyelashes, and fluttering draperies create a more lifelike image of the Mother of God and Christ Child. The presence of a signature and date on the lower border reflects a new interest in icon painters' individuality. Artists were required by a royal decree enacted in 1710 to sign and date their paintings, thus ending centuries of pious anonymity.

The half-length figure of the Mother of God holds the Christ Child on Her right arm and turns slightly towards Him. His left hand rests on a furled scroll and His right gestures as if in explanation as he gazes expectantly up at His mother's face. Her large light brown eyes, the lids of which are red and puffy from weeping, look mournfully past Him into the distance. Her left hand is raised at her breast, while a third hand representing St. John of Damascus's votive gift of thanks emerges beneath Christ's bare foot. The Mother of God wears a bronze colored maphorion edged with a white scrollwork border, the folds rendered with broadly painted cris-crossing gold highlights. Christ wears a bright orange-red hymation with gold highlights over a green chiton, whose much more fluid and 3-D folds are rendered in yellow. The faces are painted in a western manner with pink complexions and carefully modelled features with white highlights. A dark brown polia surrounds the gold ground of the image and the artist's signature, "R. V. Vasilevskii. Anno 1743" is written on the lower PL polia. A silver gilt oklad covers all but the figures and two elaborate detachable ventsy with beading and crimped sunburst borders encircle their heads. The larger one around the Mother of God's head is supported by two gilded seraphim, topped with a small split crown, and embellished with foliate sprigs, while Christ's smaller venets is chased with the letters OON. A narrow crimped ribbon marks the inner edge of the polia, which sports vigorous sprigs of acanthus leaves, foliage and flowers, and two haloed seraphim float above the lower two of four painted enamel medalions in each corner depicting the Evangelists, each identified by his name inscribed around the halo and by his symbol (from top left clockwise St. with the angel, St. with the eagle, St. with the ox, St. with the lion.) The iconpainter's inscription has been repeated in the same spot on the oklad.

Object name:
Made from:
Tempera on wood with gilding
Made in:
Date made:
H. 12 9/16 in., W. 10 3/4 in.
overall __31.91 CM __27.30 CM

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
Signature marks:
INSCRIPTION; MARK __ICON: recto: "MR FU" "IIS KhS"; "R.V. Vasilevskii Anno 1743" (painted on lower PL polia); verso: "Loan Exhibition of Russian Icons at A la Vieille Russie 781 Fifth Ave NY Nov-Dec 1962 Catalogue No 76" (on label), "Repaired 1985 No. 17" and "No 17"(on masking tape) OKLAD: "R.V. Vasilievskii 1743" on lower PL border; (on bottom edge) 1) 1790 A.B for tester Aleksei Vikhliaev 1781-1809 (P-L #2092), 2) St George and the Dragon for Moscow, 3) Ia.M for maker Iakov Maslennikov, 1756-1790s (P-L #2995), 4) A.O P (in heart shape) for unidentified alderman (P-L #2136-2138); 1), 2) and 3) are repeated on the Mother of God's venets.
Credit line:
Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973
Displayed in exhibition:
Tradition in Transition: Russian Icons in the Age of the Romanovs. Organized by Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens with the Steinhardt-Sherlock Trust and toured by International Arts & Artists; Hillwood Museum, Jun1 - Dec 31, 2004; Nevada Museum of Art Feb 3 -Apr 30,2006; Timken Museum of Art May 15 - Aug 15, 2006; Muscarelle Museum of Art Aug 26 - Oct 8, 2006; Boise Art Museum, Nov 11,2006 - Jan 28, 2007; Loyola University of Art, Feb 20 - May 20, 2007; Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Jun 12 - Sept 2, 2007; Louisiana Art & Sciences Museum, Sept 28, 2007 - Jan 6, 2008; Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art, Jun 20, 2008 - Aug 31, 2008; Memorial Art Gallery University of Rochester, Oct 4,2008 - Jan 4, 2009
Exhibition of Russian Icons, A la Vieille Russie, New York, Nov. 27 - Dec. 15, 1962
Featured in publication:
Salmond, Wendy R. Tradition in Transition: Russian Icons in the Age of the Romanovs. Edited by Robin O. Surratt. Washington, D.C.: Hillwood Museum and Gardens, 2004.
Salmond, Wendy R. Russian Icons at Hillwood. Edited by Nancy Eickel. The Hillwood Collection Series. Washington, D.C.: Hillwood Museum and Gardens, 1996.