Cantor Arts Center
328 Lomita Drive at Museum Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5060
Although this icon of the Virgin and Child imitates a famous Russian orthodox icon called “the Vladimir Mother of God,” copying did not diminish its aura in the minds of believers, as can be seen from its inscriptions on the front and back:
[Front] This miracle-working icon was painted according to the vow of the true believing Great Sovereign, the Tsaritsa and Grand Princess Agafiia Semionovna, and covered by the order of the Great Sovereign [Agafiia] by the Dvorian of the Duma Nikita Ivanov Akinfov.
[Back] This icon of the family of the late Prince Peter Nikolaevich Dolgorukii, my father, I received as a blessing from my mother, Princess Ekaterina Dolgorukova, and with this icon I bless my daughter, Anna Mikhailovskaya, who was born in 1808, September 7, at 2:00 p.m.
Both texts endow the image with prestige and power. They tell us that this icon is capable of working miracles and conferring blessings upon children, and that it was passed down through generations of Russian nobles, including the descendants of Andrei Bogoiubskii, the very man who brought the sacred prototype to Russia in the twelfth century. In ages past, the magic of this icon was also summoned through its use. As believers held candles before it, its golden ground would flicker in the sacred gloom, animating the icon with the presence of the divine.