free-standing icons served individual worshippers, while cycles of frescos on the walls told the story of salvation as revealed in scripture. Christ Pantokrator looked down from the central dome, supported by seraphim. The Last Judgement was often depicted over the western door. Even the columns accommodated saintly figures. The forms of all images were regarded not as human invention, but as rooted in the historical reality of the prototype. They could be painted from life (e.g. the image of the Mother of God painted by St Luke), or created by a miracle (e.g. the Mandylion image of Christ, which was imprinted on a cloth), or based on the memory - passed down through the generations -of a saint's features and the shape of his beard, or, finally, sent by God through visions.
The icon of the Vladimir Mother of God (Our Lady of Tenderness) provides an interesting case study of the role of miraculous icons in local and national life and their impact on contemporary artists during our period. The twelfth-century Byzantine original, which legend attributed to St Luke, was first brought to Kiev, and then taken to Vladimir. In 1395 Tamerlane threatened Moscow and Prince Dmitrii of Moscow had the icon collected from Vladimir to help to 'save the Russian land'.29 Legend has it that the Mother of God duly appeared to Tamerlane in a vision and commanded him to depart, which he did. The day the icon reached Moscow, 26 August, was celebrated as the feast of its reception or meeting (sretenie) and became a new icon subject. The Sretenskii monastery was founded on the spot where the Muscovites first greeted it.30
Once the icon was permanently transferred to Moscow it was placed to the right of the Royal Doors in the Kremlin cathedral of the Dormition.31 Copies were made, including the so-called 'spare' (zapasnaia), in which Mary no longer gazed sorrowfully at the viewer but assumed a milder and more tender expression, her eyes turned towards her child. Some scholars believe that Andrei Rublev may have been involved in making at least one ofthe copies, on both stylistic and circumstantial grounds.32 The icon was associated with
29 Moskva, eia sviatyni i pamiatniki [Izbrannye stat'i po opisaniiu Moskvy] (St Petersburg: Iablonskii, 1898), 38.
30 Istoricheskoe opisanie moskovskogo Uspenskogo sobora i ego sviatyni (Moscow: Efimov 1880), 27-9; Moskva, eia sviatyni, 70-1.
31 O. E. Etingof,'K rannei istorii ikony "Vladimirskaia Bogomater'" i traditsiia Vlakhern-skogo Bogorodichnogo kul'ta na Rusi v XI-XII vv.', in Drevnerusskoe iskusstvo: vizantiia i drevniaiaRus'. Kioo-letiiuAndreiaNikolaevichaGrabara(iSg6-iggo), ed. E. S. Smirnova (St Petersburg: Nauka, 1999), 296, 298-300.
32 E. K. Guseva, 'Ikony "Donskaia" i "Vladimirskaia" v kopiiakh kontsa XIV-nachala XIV v., in Drevnerusskoe iskusstvo. XlV-XVvv (Moscow: Nauka, 1984), 56.
Was this article helpful?