The frame honors the acheiropoieta, "not made by human hands," icon of Christ. The narratives on the doors tell its history from Christ’s leaving his image on the cloth with which he wiped his face on his way to Calvary through the cloth’s role as the protector of the kingdom of Edessa (in modern Turkey) and then its transfer to the Byzantine imperial capital in 944. In 1380 Muscovite armies, following the image on a battle standard, defeated the Mongols at the famous battle of Kulikovo. This elegant later work demonstrates the icon’s continuing importance to the Muscovite court.
Inscription: On outer sides shutters the two Archangels are identified by their inscriptions: "Archangel Gabriel" (on left side) and "Archangel Michael" (on right side) Gabriel holds sphere of "IC" and Michael holds sphere of "XC", forming the monogram of Christ. Above the archangels there are two special angels identified by inscriptions: "Seraphine" is on the left and "Cherub" is on the right. CEPROH and XEPYOI
Next to the two angel's wings are two plaques reading: "The angels of Our Lord".
Underneath image of Christ: "The image of the Lord which was sent by the Lord himself to King Abgar of Edessa for healing and this image was placed in the monastery of Saint Silvester with great honor to the glory of the great Paradise and of God's great miracle."
Two roundels inscribed "Jesus". The Scenes from Christ's Life (attached to the frame) are identified by the inscriptions: "Annunciation", "Resurrection of Lazarus", "Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple", "Crucifixion of Our Lord", "Resurrection of Christ", "Entry into Jerusalem", "The Most Holy Trinity" (The Old Testament Trinity), "Ascension of Christ", "Baptism of Our Lord", and "Nativity of Christ".
At the base of the inner left wing: "In the year 1637 this kiot (shrine) was made and the image of the Savior Not Made with Human Hands placed inside it."
At the base of the inner right wing: "To this wonderful, most wonderful and most marvellous icon of the Vernicle, Matfej Timofievich Izmailov, according to his vow." (signifying that he commissioned the triptych)
Exterior of shutters, underneath Sts. Michael and Gabriel: "Leader of the Heavenly Hosts, we unworthy ones pray ceaselessly to you, that you may protect us through your intercession with the cover of your wings, protecting us with your ineffable glory, we who fall down and cry: save us from danger as the leader of the Heavenly Hosts". To St. Michael: "Archistrategos of God, servant of the glory of God, guide of people, may you obtain for us the beneficial, and great grace, as leader of the spiritual forces". To St. Gabriel: "Of the most bright, venerable, all-powerful, inexpressible and awesome Trinity you are the leader, glorious servant and intercessor, pray ceaselessly that we may be saved from all dangers..."
Sixteen scenes from the Legend of the Icon of the Vernicle are underneath the Annunciation.
10 Saints attached to shrine's box are identified by inscriptions: "Mother of God", "St. Alexis the Metropolitan", "St. John the Evangelist", "St. Peter the Metropolitan", "St. Iona the Metropolitan", "St. John the Baptist", "St. Nicholas", "St. Great Prince Vladimir", "St. Matthew", and "St. Reverend (Prepedobnyj) Sergius".
Above the heads of Christ and God the Father is inscribed: "Says the Lord to My Lord; sit on right of me". On the sides of the Trinity are angels and symbols of the Evangelists with their names inscribed in cartouches.
1. "Many miracles were committed by Our Lord; he healed many (people), all sorts of ailments he cured."
2. "About this, Avgar, the prince of Edessa, heard; he sent to Jesus Anania to beg him in order to come to the town of Edessa."
3. "Avgar sent a painter of icons, Luka, to paint..... the image of the face of Jesus on a cloth."
4. "Luka came ot Jerusalem and stood in a remote place, painting the image of the face, Jesus called him and spoke to Luka (Avgarev) to give him water and the cloth and he washed his face and he dried it with the cloth."
5. "A wonderous miracle of a change of a simple water into wine was made and the image of Jesus happened on the cloth and Jesus sent the cloth (shroud) with Fadei and Luka to the Prince Avgar."
6. "Luka with Fadei, carrying the shround, came to the town Erapolis, and laid down to sleep; and a pillar of fire appeared on the shroud."
7. "(From the distance), the people and the residents of the town went, (seeing) the pillar of fire, seeing the miracle being reflected on a stone and carried (it - the image or the image reflected on the stone) into the city; ill people with all sorts of ailments were cured."
8. "Fadei and Luka came near the city of Edessa, some lame man sitting along the path, touched the shroud and went to relate (it) to Avgar. Avgar, seeing the image of Christ, was delighted and walked to the shroud healthy."
9. "Prince Avgar was baptized by the apostle Anania with his whole household and the whole town was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost."
10. "Prince Avgar ordered to install the shroud above the town's gate. People entering or leaving the town, first of all, would pray to the image of the Lord. A woman, enveloped in light, appeared to the Bishop Evlaviu and showed (him) a place to be used to hide the image of the Lord."
11. "After many years, a person worshipping idols arrived in the district of Edessa not respecting the divine image and he ordered to build devilish idols."
12. "After many years, Persians came and wanted to seize the city of Edessa. The Bishop raised the very honorable image and stood on top of the gate. Persian like by fire were driven away."
13. "In the royal town Constantinople, the pious Roman sent a lot of gold and silver to the ruler of the town Edessa, (and he sent) bishops and priests and every rank."
14. "And when the bishops and the whole nation came to the town Edessa they raised (took) the honorable very honorable image with psalms and songs and spiritual singing."
15. "When they came to the royal town and the Greek tsar Roman (was greeted) and (he) met with the whole nation. The Patriarch took a golden shrine and laid the image of Christ into it and carried it into the church."
16. "The Tsar and the Patriarch and the whole nation bowed before the shroud of the image of Christ, honestly kissing (it), to the glory of the Lord, Amen."
Made for the high court official Marfej Timofievich Izmailov , in fufillment of a vow ; Harry Cripps ; Sir Thomas Rapp ; R. Howard Godfrey ; Christie's, London (Mar 5, 1975, lot 190); sold to MMA