Conception of the Virgin Mary


Heritage: Bulgarian, unknown origin

Now in: Sofia, Chrypt Al. Nevski
Original: 19 C. / 35 x 24 cm

Replica: 35,5 x 26 cm


According to James, Joachim and Anna had long been childless. When the Angel of the Lord was sent to announce that their prayers had been heard, he found Joachim in the mountains, whither he had fled in his grief and shame after their offerings had been refused, and Anna weeping at the well. In their joy at these glad tidings, they ran to find each other, and in the intimate embrace of the excited parents at the so-called Golden Gate, the Virgin was conceived. This icon shows this very scene. Joachim wears a red chiton, with a three-dot ornament all over it, and a dark blue himation which has slipped off his shoulders. Anna wears a green chiton ornamented with black flowers and a pale red maphorion with large, thickly outlined folds. Both stand on the red "earth", covered with small bushes and trees  which are out of proportion with the rest of the scene. There is a window to the right through which a landscape is visible: a tree with fantastic branches and a small red building resembling a chapel. The comparatively poor architectural decor, reduced to details which are only suggested, focuses the viewer's attention on the event, seen in an intimate, human aspect. The principles of the composition already transcend the confines of medieval aesthetics. The way in which an eye is set full-face in a face painted in profile, recalls old Eastern traditions, revived with fresh force in the intimate world of the primitive master. An inscription in Bulgarian, in black letters reads: “ Conception of the Holy Virgin ”  

Cat. No 1.7