RITZOS, Andreas
(b. ca. 1422, Candia, d. ca. 1492, Crete)

The Mother of God of Passion

c. 1490
Egg tempera on wood, 82 x 62 cm
Ikonen-Museum, Recklinghausen

The icon with the motif "Mother of God of the Passion" was extraordinarily popular in the Cretan icon-painting of the late 15th and the 16th century, and is venerated both by Orthodox and by Catholic Christians.

This type takes its name "Mother of God of the Passion" from the fact that the Christ-child, sitting on the left arm of His mother, is turning towards the Archangel Gabriel, who is depicted floating in from the right holding out a Cross. From the other side the Archangel Michael approaches, holding further symbols of the Passion, the Spear and the Holy Sponge.

Possibly the "invention" or at least the popularisation of this icon type is due to the important painter Andreas Ritzos. Three signed Madonnas of the Passion by him are known. The painting style of these signed icons corresponds so closely to that of the Mother of God of the Passion in Recklinghausen as to allow an attribution of the latter to Andreas Ritzos too. In all the icons, a striking feature is the perfect technical execution, and the smooth surfaces of the flesh depiction, which are modelled by a large number of delicate, parallel white brush-strokes.