Christ, the True Vine

Region: Russia
Period: Second half 18th Century
Size: 50 x 40 cm


This extremely rare Russian icon of Christ, the True Vine shows Christ standing with an open Gospel (Mt. 11, 28) in his right hand and a sword in his left hand. The branches behind Christ, fanning out to his left and right, refer to John 15, 1-10: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts away every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit.”

On each branch a member of the clergy is seated. The branches on Christ’s right have leaves and bear fruit. The saints sitting on the fruitful branches are accompanied by angels who lead them to the gates of Paradise, which is depicted above the tree. The barren branches on Christ’s left hand are being hacked off by angels. The unrighteous preachers fall down into the fiery mouth of Hell.

The inscription proceeding from Christ’s mouth is directed at the fruit-bearing righteous: “My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat…” (Mt. 25, 34-35). The inscription on the sword condemns the unrighteous: “Get away from me! You are under God’s curse. Go into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels!” (Mt. 25, 41).