Russian icon of the The Dormition of the Mother of God, XIX century
Dimensions: 31 x 26.5 cm
In the Gospels nothing is said about the earthly life of the Mother of God after the Ascension of the Savior. Information about Her last days are preserved by church tradition. For this reason, the iconographic sources of the images of the Assumption in Byzantium, the Balkans and in Ancient Rus(sia) were widespread apocryphal legends. The general composition of the icon is traditional for the art of Byzantium and Ancient Rus. According to tradition, the Assumption is represented as an event taking place in the house of John the Theologian in Jerusalem – in the Zion chamber, where the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles. The Mother of God is depicted in the center on a bed, on the sides of Her are the weeping apostles, behind the bed stands the Savior with the soul of the Mother of God, represented as a swaddled baby. The heavenly powers accompanying Christ are represented by one six-winged seraphim. Behind the apostles are four bishops with nimbuses: Jacob, “brother of God,” the first bishop of Jerusalem, and three disciples of the apostles: Timothy, Hierophheus and Dionysius the Areopagite accompanying the Apostle Paul. In the background, two female figures depict the believers of Jerusalem, who together with the apostles and bishops constitute the inner circle of the Church, in which the mystery of the Assumption of the Mother of God takes place. The bed with the body of the Mother of God is undoubtedly likened to the throne in the temple, and the apostles’ arrangement by two groups headed by Peter and Paul, on either side, symbolize their presence during the Eucharist and communion under two kinds. Christ behind the bed is an image of a bishop at a meal.