The Mother of God with Christ-Child

Copy of the mural in the apse of the Cathedral of St. Vladimir, Kiev.

Many of the founders of Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church originally emigrated from Ukraine and Belarus in the early 20th Century. In commissioning the painting of this particular icon of the Mother of God with the Christ-Child, it is quite possible that they wanted to have their church in Baltimore remind them of their favorite churches in Kiev.

This icon of Mother with Child is a copy of the icon originally painted by Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov in the St Vladimir’s Cathedral of Kiev. This is an intriguing work of the artist and a representative sample of the developing 19th century Russian art. Vasnetsov tried to synthesize traditional iconography with modern western techniques.

This painting follows the basic compositional elements of an icon representing the Virgin and child. However, this representation is much more life-like. The Virgin's face reflects a calm and determined spirit. And Jesus' arms here are welcoming, ready to embrace the world with both His love and His peace. The eyes of Mary and Christ are also large and intense, but this was achieved more in the old style of icon painting. Large, dark, and almond shaped, Mary's eyes are perhaps one of the most "mystical" aspects of the icon/painting.

Born into the family of a priest, Vasnetsov received his first drawing lessons in the Vyatsky Seminary in the early 1860s. In 1867, he moved to St. Petersburg and enrolled in the Drawing School of the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts. Vasnetsov later finished his studies at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (1875).