Theotocos Fadeless Blossom
The iconography emerged, most probably, at Mount Athos, in the 17th century, and became especially widespread in the 19th under the impact of an Athenian engraving. In Russia, the icons of Fadeless Blossom appeared in engravings since the 18th century.
The Tretyakov Gallery image pertains to the oldest type, most probably ascending to an unknown Athenian icon under a certain influence of the Western iconographic tradition. This sophisticated allegorical composition bases on the Old Testament prototypes of the Virgin, and epithets belonging to Her hymnography. In the centre of this icon are portrayed the Virgin and Child in royal attire decorated with gold («the vestments lavishly adorned», «the attire of gold»). The temple in the background symbolises «the mansion of the King», while the throne in front of the Virgin, on which the Saviour is standing betokens Her closeness to the Heavenly Throne, while She Herself is «the throne and the palace of the King». The sun, moon, star, censer, candle and other items round the Virgin and Child are prototypical symbols of Mary. The flowering sceptre in Her hand reminds of another prototypical Mariological symbol in the Old Testament, the sceptre of the Tree of Jesse. Last but not least, Mary as Virgin is tytled «The Fadeless Blossom» — hence the vases of flowers and blooming branches surrounding Her in this iconography.