- Museum number
- Object: The Birth of the Virgin Mary surrounded by Scenes from the Lives of Joachim and Anne
Icon; painted; the front is divided into five discrete parts by an architectural framework. Under the central arch Anne, seated on a couch, is shown giving birth to Mary whilst three women bearing gifts approach from the right. At the foot of the couch two midwifes prepare a bath for Mary. To the left is the Meeting of Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gates ('The Embrace'), and to the right Joachim and Anne sitting on a chair inside their home and cradling the infant Mary. Above the roofs are two annunciations by flying angels to, respectively, a praying Joachim (on the left) and to Anne (on the right). At the top centre is a cloudy medallion with an image of God Sabaoth holding an orb in his left hand and raising his right in blessing.
Inscriptions: in Church Slavonic on either side of God: ГД САВАОФ (Lord Sabaoth); in the haloes of Anne and Joachim respectively: СВ АННА (St Anne) and СВ ИОАКИМ (St Joachim); in Greek above the infant Mary: MP ΘV (Mother of God).
Egg tempera, gold, gesso on wood.
- Production date
Height: 36 centimetres
Weight: 1.80 kilograms
Width: 31 centimetres
Depth: 3 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- The great feast of the Birth of the Virgin Mary was established in Byzantium around the 5th century and is celebrated on 8th September. Its iconography is based on the apocryphal Gospel of Jacob (Jac. 5) which tells the story of the elderly and righteous parents of Mary – Joachim and Anna. The composition is known in Byzantine art as early as the 9th century although it was not until the 13th century that all aspects of the story were included. The episode with the Fondling of the Infant Mary is not mentioned in Jacob’s text, so it probably derives from the words of John of Damascus on the feast of the Nativity. The composition of the Birth of the Virgin Mary surrounded by four scenes became common in Russian art from the beginning of the 17th century.
On the iconography of this scene in general see: LCI, cols 120–5.
Cormack 2007, 124, no. 45
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2015 15 Sep-10 Jan, USA, Norfolk, Chrysler Museum of Art, Byzantium to Russia: The origins and development of Russian icons 1200 to 1900
2015 30 Apr- 22 Aug, USA, Clinton, Museum of Russian Icons, Byzantium to Russia: The origins and development of Russian Icons 1200 to 1900.
- Made from a single panel with two inserted battens along the upper and lower edges of the frame; what would have been the olive green color on the borders has been stripped down to the gesso.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- See 1998,0605.1 Most of the items catalogued under 1998,0605 were acquired by Sir Frank Roberts’ wife, Cella.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: IC 45 (Icon Collection number)