Virgin of Vladimir
The Virgin of Vladimir
The Russian Church honors the icon of the "Vladimir Mother of God" three times a year: on May 21, May 26, and June 23. These commemorations also celebrate the deliverance of Moscow from the invasion of Tamerlane (Timur) in 1395, during the reign of Vasily I. According to tradition, an icon of "the Mother of God" was brought to Moscow from Vladimir when the city faced an impending attack. At the moment the icon reached Kuchkovoe, Tamerlane awoke in his tent and saw a vision of a woman in brilliant light. When his diviners explained that the vision was none other than the Mother of God who protected Christians, Tamerlane decided to retreat. To mark this event, a Monastery of the Presentation was begun at Kuchkovoe and a festival was inaugurated. It included a procession in which the icon was carried from the Kremlin to the Monastery.
The icon by Simon Ushakov in the State Russian Museum is one of many painted after the twelfth-century original, now lost, which was kept for several hundred years in the Cathedral of the Dormition at Vladimir.
Ushakov was one of the most renowned icon artists of his period. Born to a wealthy family, the painter was transferred in 1664 by decree of the Tsar to the Armory where he supervised the school of icon painters. Ushakov and his school are particularly known for their use of perspective and modeling. Unfortunately, many passages of the icon reproduced here have been badly restored, and the work therefore gives little indication of the artist's technical and poetic abilities. In addition to his icon paintings, Ushakov was also known for his writings on art, including "Words to the Lovers of Icon Painting," a piece which encouraged increased realism in the painting of icons.