Constantinople, 10th century
The center of this exquisite triptych (three-paneled icon) shows the Virgin holding the Christ Child and pointing toward him with her right hand. This portrait type of the Virgin is known as "Hodegetria," named after a famous icon in the Hodegon monastery in Constantinople, believed in the Middle Ages to have been painted by Saint Luke the Evangelist. On the wings, two pairs of unnamed saints pay homage to the Virgin and Child. Barely visible traces of pigment and gold remain on this triptych, indicating that it was once brightly colored. The panels of the triptych were cut down at some point, and the wings and central section do not align perfectly, suggesting that this object might be the result of two earlier pieces being joined together.