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The Assumption of Mary

This icon of the Assumption of Mary uses a motif that first appeared in a fresco painted between 1272 and 1280 by Cimabue in the apse of the Upper Church of San Francesco in Assisi, the mother church of the Franciscan Order. It is a very unusual and powerful depiction of Christ gently taking his mother to heaven after her earthly death. The intimacy of Mary resting on her son’s shoulder, with her leg crossing his knee, is a poignant reversal of the “Mother of Tenderness” icon image, in which the baby Jesus presses his face against his mother’s cheek. Christ and Mary are surrounded by a starry and rainbow-colored mandorla, a symbol of the uncreated divine light of God’s glory. While holding his mother, Christ looks out as if in invitation to the viewer, a promise that he will embrace and welcome them as well.

Tempera and gold leaf on wood; 18”x24”; 2016. Private collection, Louisiana.

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