Icon: Volokolamskaya Mother of God | S-3
Origin Northern Russia
Period : first half 17th century
Size : 31.2 x 26 cm
Private collection Switserland

The Mother of God is dressed in a dark purple-brown mantle. She carries the Christ Child on her right arm and with her left hand she gestures towards her Son. The Christ Child presses his cheek against his mother's and gazes at her. Mary does not respond to his gaze but looks past Him at the viewer.

The prototype of the Volokolamskaya was painted in 1572. According to tradition, this icon was commissioned by Grigori Belski, a favourite of Ivan the Terrible. Grigori Belski ordered the icon for the Josaph Monastery in Volokolamsk. Because the icon was reputed to work miracles, it very quickly became specially venerated. It was placed in the local tier of the iconostasis of the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Joseph Monastery. In 1954, this first Volokolamskaya icon was taken to the Andrei Rublev Museum in Moscow.

The composition of the Mother of God Volokolamskaya is almost identical to that of the Vladimirskaya. The differences are the jewels and pearls stitched onto the maphorion and the crown placed above the halo. It seems highly likely that this is a painted version of the Vladimirskaya icon which was decorated in the late 16th century with an abundance of precious stones and pearls on a silver basma. This type of Mother of God Volokolamskaya was cherished throughout Russia in the 17th century. A great many copies were made during this period for the purpose of private worship.