Dit jaar in de aanbieding (en te bezichtigen) op The European Fine Arts Fair te Maastricht (tot en met 22 maart):
The Mother of God is depicted half-length against a gold background. She wears a blue tunic and a purple ‘maphorion‘ (mantle), fastened at the chest. The borders of both her tunic and mantle are decorated with gold pseudo-Kufic inscriptions. A transparent white veil is draped over her hair. Holding Christ on her right arm, Mary gestures towards him by resting her hand lovingly on his left leg. Christ holds a closed scroll in one hand and makes a sign of blessing with the other. His face is turned towards the left. His undergarment is a dark blue tunic, decorated along its borders with gold. His orange-red robe has a refined pattern of gold highlights accentuating the fall of the folds. At his right upper arm, a part of his transparent white shirt is visible, reaching to his elbow.
The iconography of the Madre della Consolazione type is of Western origin. It has clearly been influenced by Italian prototypes from the 14th century. The icon’s Italian title refers to the suffering of Christ, as anticipated by his mother. This high quality example can be placed in the general context of Veneto-Cretan icons produced on the island of Crete during its Venetian occupation. The type was probably introduced to the Orthodox-Christian world by the famous icon painter Nikolaos Tzafouris in the second half of the 15th century; his oeuvre is typified by combined Byzantine and Italian iconographical types. Two icons of the Madre della Consolazione signed by him are known, one in a private collection in Trieste and the other in the Kanellopoulos Collection in Athens.
The Icon of the Madre della Consolazione, nearly always painted in a late Gothic style, became very popular in the 15th and 16th century in Italy. However, Italy was not the only important market for the icon painters. The fame of the Cretan icon painters reached far beyond the island’s shores. Cretan icons were exported to Mount Athos, Patmos, Rhodes, Cyprus, Cairo, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Sinai and even to Flanders.
The icon of the Mother of God of the Sign recalls the prophecy of Isaiah The Lord will give you a sign: behold, a virgin will conceive and bear a son … (Isaiah 7:14). The image of the Virgin with hands raised in prayer is one of the oldest in Christian art.