This 14th century icon was found in its original site in the main church of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity on the island of Halki (Heybeliada) in Turkey. The two-sided icon represents on one side the Virgin and Child framed by ten sacred scenes and on the reverse the Crucifixion. Jesus has an exceptional pose on the obverse: the Child bends back toward the viewer as he lifts his arms to his mother. Both the development in depth of the Mother and Child and the bent knees of the crucified Christ on the reverse indicate a familiarity with Italian painting, but one fully integrated into the Byzantine sensibility. Mother and Child reflect motifs recurrent in 15th century Cretan paintings: the child’s crossed ankles, his arms lifted to frame Mary’s head, her fingers delicately supporting and thus drawing attention to the droop of his head, anticipating its droop in death. The icon is not Cretan in style, however, and the soft, richly bundled folds and coloristic subtlety of the drapery suggest a date in the second half of the 14th century. It originally served as a proskynitari (veneration icon) on the northern wall of the left corridor known as “the Chapel of Panaghia Pausolypi”. The excellent quality of the work and the extensive use of lapis lazuli suggest that the icon comes from the Imperial icon workshop. It is among the finest works of its kind in existence and was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in the exhibition: Byzantium – Faith and Power (1261-1557).
Fluctuations in humidity and woodworms had weakened the structure of the icon and caused the paint to flake and oxidation had adversely affected the varnish and colour.