Inseparable from the liturgical tradition, religious art is seen by Orthodox Christians as a form of pictorial confession of faith and a channel of religious experience. Because icons provide direct personal contact with the holy persons represented on them, these images were objects of veneration, in either a public or private setting, and were even believed to have the ability to heal.
The painter of this icon has adapted a Westernized style of figural representation, moving away from the harsh angles and linearity of the Byzantine stylistic influences that dominate Russian icon painting. No doubt the increased naturalism of the holy figures served to further humanize them in the eyes of the worshippers. We have caught the mother and child in an intimate, tender moment. The young Christ reaches around his mother and hugs her as she holds him close in a scene any parent can relate to. The vast majority of this icon has been covered in a gilded brass oklad, reserved for only the most revered images. The oklad imitates the folds and curves of the figures’ drapery in high relief, utilizing a technique known by the French word, repoussé. Further floral and abstract motifs decorate the borders of the oklad. An additional piece of metal has been attached to represent the figures’ halos. Overall, this icon brings the viewer closer to God through the humanization of the Christ child and the Mother of God. They are both clearly divine and yet also human. Through identifying with their humanity, the worshipper will become closer to their divinity.