This late 15th century Russian icon from the Moscow School of iconography is of the Eleusa or Merciful type, and is now in the I. S. Ostrouchov collection at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. The icon is approximately 16″ x 21″ and in good condition with a bright gold background and clear features. The Lord has His right hand raised to tenderly touch His mother’s chin, and rests His face against her cheek, while His left hand holds on to the Virgin’s outer veil. She holds Him carefully and with comforting affection, especially in the position of her left hand on His back, keeping Him close and secure. This tenderness underlies icons of the Theotokos, or Birth-Giver of God, that are called Eleusa.
The relationship of the Virgin to Her son is very interesting and complex according to the verses written in the Church services which explain this theologically. Although she was really His mother and fed Him and clothed Him and protected Him in the best of human relationships of mother and child, she was still aware that He was not just a child, but the very God that she had prayed so ardently would come to save His people. What a wonder!