Antique Russian beaded icon of the Mother of God of Iversk


Based on a famed original, this Russian icon is beautifully crafted from miniature glass beads, and depicts Christ in the arms of the Mother of God.


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Crafted in the early 20th century, this superb religious icon is crafted from a host of unusual materials. 

Mounted onto a wooden backing, the figurative icon depicts the Mother of God, holding the Christ Child in her arms. The majority of the portrait is comprised of miniature glass beads, aside from the faces, hands, and feet of the Madonna and Child, which are painted. The two figures are adorned with white beaded cloaks, and are surrounded by circular silver beaded halos. Adorning the halos, the cuffs of the robes, and the shoulders of the Madonna, are several larger paste gemstones, in a variety of colours including silver, pink, and gold. A series of these gemstones also makes up a crown on the Madonna’s head.

The two figures are set against a rich blue beaded backdrop, and are ensconced in a dual-layer beaded border which utilises some larger colourful beads. However, the two figures sit slightly outside of the lower frame, perhaps reflecting the power of Christ and his mother. Above the figures is a beaded Cyrillic inscription, the first section of which translates to ‘Iversk’.

The original icon on which this portrait is based is called the ‘Iverskaya’ (Russian) or ‘Panagia Portaitissa’ (Greek), and has been situated in the Georgian Iviron monastery on Mount Athos in Greece since c. 999 AD. It belongs to a family of images of the Madonna known as the ‘Hodegetria’: in these icons, as in this version, the Christ Child sits on his mother's left arm and extends his hand in an act of blessing, whilst she points to Christ with her right hand.

The red gash across the Virgin Mary’s cheek is likely a reference to a traditional story that surrounds the original object: when the icon was supposedly stabbed by a soldier in Nicaea during the period of Byzantine iconoclasm (9th century AD), blood miraculously flowed out of the wound. Many reproductions, Russian and otherwise, recreate this ‘scar’ feature.

The icon is ensconced in a silvered wooden frame, carved with foliate designs. There is a split in the face of the Madonna.

Combining a fascinating history with unusual materials, this Russian icon is a true collector’s item.

Icon: Height 34cm, width 27cm, depth 2cm
Frame: Height 48.5cm, width 42cm, depth 5.5cm


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
Early 20th Century
Early 20th Century
Christian, Figurative Art, Religious, Russian Interest
Glass, Painted Wood, Semi-precious stones


48.5 cm / 18.9 inches
42 cm / 16.5 inches
5.5 cm / 2 inches


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