Orthodox Icons

About Orthodox Icons

In 1926, Queen Marie of Romania traveled to the Pacific Northwest to dedicate Maryhill Museum of Art for her friend Samuel Hill. She carried with her a variety of art objects that became the nucleus of the museum’s permanent collection. Included in this material were some fine Russian icons. The icon collection has since grown—through donation and purchases—and now includes more than 25 items.

“Icon” is the Greek word for “image” and Orthodox Christian icons contain information that is presented in a concentrated visual format. Through the use of formal techniques and specific symbolism, they direct the hearts and minds of worshippers toward God. Icons are not merely decorative religious paintings; they are sacred objects that connect people to the figures that they portray. The ancient church affirmed that icons “partake of the nature of the original.” The images facilitate a two-way interaction: when individuals venerate them and use them for prayer, they receive spiritual benefit through the efficacy of the pictured people and events.

Orthodox Icon Collection

Sister Eliseea Papcioc (Romanian, born c. 1969), Icon of the Theophany (The Baptism of Jesus Christ), c. 2000, egg tempera and turquoise on wood panel, 23½” x 15¾”; Collection of Maryhill Museum of Art

Orthodox Icons Collection
Orthodox Icons Collection
Orthodox Icons Collection
Orthodox Icon Collection

Top: 1. Unknown Russian artists, Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign (Platytera) with beaded riza, c. 1800–1850, tempera on wood panel and glass beads, 9” x 8”; Collection of Maryhill Museum of Art. 2. Orthodox Icons Collection, Vladimir. 3. Unknown Greek artist, Icon of the Three Holy Hierarchs (St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, and St. John Chrysostom), 1924, tempera, gold leaf, and gesso on board, 16⅜” x 12”; Collection of Maryhill Museum of Art. Bottom: 1. Smolensk Mother of God, c. 1750
Egg tempera on wood with metal basma (possibly tin), 11½” x 13½”. Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton, Mass. 2. ECCLES Quadripartite icon 1926.3.46

View the exhibition online: “The Mother of God and the Saints Orthodox Christian Icons at Maryhill Museum of Art”

In an effort to share our exhibitions with a wider audience, the museum’s curator of art, Steve Grafe, created these digital presentations. We invite you to explore the featured objects and accompanying label copy.

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