One day I must learn how to "read" icons properly. The Mary knows all too well what lies in the future; this Jesus has an adult face on his child-like body. It makes me desperately sad to contemplate it; a mother's worst nightmare.
It reminds me of a child with a degenerative disease that I briefly taught; how appalling for the parents, to see their beautiful girl slowly succumb to the disease robbing her of movement, speech, intellect and finally life. Maybe this icon would be a comfort, in the way that the suffering Jesus indicates that he is with us through EVERYTHING.
The most Orthodox and revered icon in medieval Russia, «Our Lady of Vladimir» was brought from Constantinople in the early 12th century; it was destined to become the holy of holies of the Russian state. The icon was kept in Vyshgorod, near Kiev. But it became especially revere not in Kiev but in Vladimir, where the icon was sent in 1155 by Prince Andrei Bogoliubsky. The splendid white-stone church the Assumption of the Virgin was especially built to house the icon of «Our Lady of Vladimir». On 26 August (8 September in the New Style calendar) 1395, during the attack by Tamerlane, the icon was solemnly transferred to Moscow and on this day Tamerlane retreated and left the territory of Muscovy. After this the image was returned to Vladimir, but in 1480 it was again taken to the great Moscow church of the Assumption, where it remained till 1918. The Greek name of this iconographic type – Eleus – can be translated literally as «showing mercy». In medieval Russia this type of iconography was called «Umilenie – Tender Affection», which corresponds more closely to the imagery: the Child’s cheek is tenderly pressed up against Our Lady’s face; he embraces her with his left hand, and Our Lady holds the Child with her right hand, leaning her head towards him. A characteristic feature of this iconography is that the left foot of the Child is bent in such a way that His heel is seen. The icon is drawn on two sides. On the obverse there is a depiction of the «Throne of the Second Coming (Еtimasia)». The painting on the obverse evokes controversy to this day: some date it to the 15th century, others to the 19th century.
from the Tretyakov Gallery.