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Azov Mother of God

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Azov Mother of God

Made by: Unknown

Currently in storage

About this object

This rare icon reflects Russia's long struggle with Turkey for control of the port of Azov and strategic naval access to the Black Sea. Its prototype was created to celebrate Peter the Great's capture of Azov in 1696. Hillwood's greatly simplified icon dates from the time of Catherine the Great (reigned 1762-1796), when a renewed campaign against Turkey resulted in a decisive victory for Russia in 1774. The Western influences of the age are evident in the uncovered head of the Mother of God, the tiny split crown she wears, and the disconcertingly realistic rendition of the double-headed eagle.

In an oval medallion the Mother of God is seated on a dark cloud bank, holding the naked Christ child close to her breast and staring intently into his face. She is dressed in a flowing grown with an Italian-style maphorion wrapped around her and partially covering her hair. A tiny crown is perched on her head and the crescent moon lies beneath her bare left foot. The medallion is placed on the breast of a large black double-headed eagle holding in its talons the orb and scepter. A small split crown is placed above each of the eagle's heads, and a larger crown fills the space between, echoing the crown on the Mother of God beneath. The whole image is painted on a dull blue-green ground with a gold border and the back and sides are also painted blue. There is one transverse shponka in the middle of the verso.

Object name:
Azov Mother of God
Made from:
Tempera on wood
Made in:
Date made:
ca. 1775-1780
overall __14.62 IN __11.38 IN
overall __37.15 CM __28.89 CM

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
Signature marks:
INSCRIPTION; LABEL __recto: "MR FU" ; "IIS KHS"; verso: "M13.1970 Post" (rewritten in red over old label)
Credit line:
Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973
Featured in publication:
"Tradition in Transition: Russian Icons in the Age of the Romanovs ","Exuberance of Meaning: The Art Patronage of Catherine the Great (1762-1769)"