Since Mary was declared the mother of God at the Council of Ephesus in 431, iconographers have depicted her holding the child Jesus. He often has his cheek pressed affectionately to hers and the love is so evident between them. The art of the Middle Ages didn't show musculature, shadows or perspective, but it certainly showed holiness. The icons were written (not painted) using a formula that emphasized the spirituality of the image rather than the realism that was developed during the Renaissance. The artists didn't even sign their icons because they didn't consider them to be important. God was the important one! I love icons and what they represent and I loved painting my version of the Mother of the God of Tenderness.