The Tolgsk icon of the Mother of God is known from three copies of the late 13th – early 14th centuries, one of which is referred to as wonderworking for its miraculous appearance in 1314 to Rostov Hierarch Prochorous. The Tolgsk icon belongs to the iconographic type known as Umilenie (Tenderness). A copy of the icon dating back to the last quarter of the 13th century is kept in the State Tretyakov Gallery, while the original icon is housed in the Tolgsk Monastery.

The earliest icon of the Tolgsk Mother of God is also known as the Great (Throne) icon or Tolgsk I icon. It is believed to have been created in the last quarter of the 13th century. The iconographic analogies of the Tolgsk throne icons can be found in Byzantine art of the late 12th – 13th centuries. The “Throne” Tolgsk icon was acquired by the Tolgsk Monastery, founded in 1314, as an ancient and venerated image and was placed on the bishop’s seat at a monastery cathedral. The icon is painted on a lime-tree board (dimensions 140 x 92 cm.). The Mother of God is depicted at full-length, sitting on a throne. The Divine Child stands on Her left ankle embracing Her by the neck and squeezing up against Her cheek, the Theotokos is slightly supporting Him with both hands. On either side of the throne hover the archangels Gabriel and Michael. The Theotokos sits on a throne with a high back with archways decorated with ochre vegetable ornamentation.

The Tolgsk icon of the Mother of God or Tolgsk II icon is considered wonderworking. The tale of its miraculous discovery dates back to the 16th century and is based on local legends. The icon was housed in the Tolgsk Vvedensky Monastery built on the site of its discovery. In the 1920s the icon was confiscated and passed to the Yaroslavl Museum of Art. It was returned to the Monastery only in 2003. The icon had appeared to the bishop of Rostov and Yaroslavl Prochorous in 1314. The Tolgsk icon is ascribed numerous miracles. The icon is painted on a board of 61 х 48 in size. The Mother of God is depicted at waist-length, with the Infant Christ sitting on Her left arm. The position of her arms is different compared with the “Throne” Tolgsk icon.

Circa 1327, a copy was made of the Tolgsk icon, known as Tolgsk icon III. The icon had been kept in the Tolgsk Monastery and was subsequently acquired by the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

The Tolgsk icon of the Mother of God is venerated as the patroness of the Yaroslavl land. It is commemorated on August 21 (August 8, O.S.).

Zhanna G. Belik,

Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.

Olga E. Savchenko,

research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.


1. Дмитриева Н. Икона Божией Матери Толгская.

2. Лазарев В. Н. Русская иконопись от истоков до начала XVI века. М., 2000.

3. Масленицын С. И. Ярославская иконопись. М., 1983.

4. Антонова В. И., Мнева Н. Е. Каталог древнерусской живописи XIV – начала XVII веков: Опыт историко-художественной классификации. М., 1963.

5. Иконы Ярославля XIII – середины XVII века. М., 2009.

6. Похвала Богоматери: Иконы Ярославля XIII – XX веков из собрания Ярославского Художественного музея. М., 2003.

7. Государственная Третьяковская Галерея. Древнерусское искусство X – начала XV века. Каталог собрания. Том 1. М., 1995.

8. Bentchev I. Bibliographie der Gottesmutterikonen. Bonn, 1992. Р. 249–250.

9. Ростово-суздальская живопись XII–XVI веков. М., 1970.

10. Снессорева С. Земная жизнь Пресвятой Богородицы и описание святых чудотворных ее икон, чтимых Православной Церковью, на основании Священного Писания и церковных преданий, с изображением в тексте праздников и икон Божией Матери. Ярославль, 2000.

11. Кондаков Н.П. Иконография Богоматери. СПб., 1914–1915. В 2 Т.

12. Великие и чудотворные / Сост. В.Е. Суздалев. Нижний Новгород, 1993.

13. Чудотворный образ. Иконы Богоматери в Третьяковской галерее / Авторы-составители А.М. Лидов, Г.В. Сидоренко. М., 2001.

14. Хохлова И. Л. Иконы Рыбинского музея. М., 2005.

15. Хохлова И. Л. Иконы Рыбинска. Рыбинск, 2009.