It is not always easy to distinguish certain types of icons. Sometimes a type is close enough to simply blend into another, and then what do we call it?
You are all very familiar with the extremely common “Lord Almighty” (Gospod’ Vsederzhitel) type of Jesus — the one the Greeks call the Pantokrator:
But how do we classify an icon like the one below? It has the “Lord Almighty” inscription at the sides of the image of Jesus, but there is also another inscription at the base identifying this as a “sub-category” icon — an icon that has become famous under its own name.
Now icons of Jesus as “Lord Almighty,” but depicted to the upper breast, and with the Gospel book crowded in between his shoulder and neck, are generally called the “All-merciful Savior / Спас Всемилостивый / Spas Vsemilostivuiy, but also sometimes called the “‘Boris and Gleb’ Savior / Спас Борисогле́бский / Spas Borisoglebskiy, or the Romanov Savior / Спас Рома́новский / Spas Romanovskiy. That is because the town of Tutaev in Yaroslavl Oblast, where the original icon of this type was kept in the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, was formerly known as Romanov-Borisoglebsk.
Here is an old photo of the icon:
There are several conflicting accounts of its origin, with one saying it washed up on the banks of the Volga River (the motif of a miracle-working icon that comes “floating on the water” is common). Another says it was painted by Dionisiy Glushitsky (1363-1437). For our purposes, however, we only need to know how to recognize it and distinguish it as a sub-category of regular “Lord Almighty” icons.
But as we have seen, the example depicted below (I repeat the photo here) is an “All-Merciful Savior” type with its own name:
It is known as the “Moskvoretskiy Savior”/ Спас Москворецкий / Spas Moskvoretskiy, after the place where the icon for which it is named was originally kept by the Moscow River near the Kremlin. Later the icon was kept in the chapel of the “All Merciful Savior” on Moskvoretskaya street in Moscow, seen on the right of the street in this old photo:
Perhaps you noticed that the Moskvoretskiy icon shows Jesus blessing with the “two-fingered” sign characteristic of the Old Believers. But keep in mind that it was the common Russian blessing form prior to the split between the Old Believers and the State Russian Orthodox Church in the middle of the 17th century. So sometimes it is found on icons used by the State Church that are copied after a prototype painted before the schism.
Now to confuse matters even more, there are icons very much in the form of the “Savior of Smolensk” type that are also sometimes called the “All-Merciful Savior,” like this one:
They are not very common, however, so though one should be aware that they exist, it is more important to recognize the “non-standing” type above that looks more like the usual “Lord Almighty” icons but has the Gospel book crowded up between the shoulder of Jesus and his head. And of course always pay attention to title inscriptions.
The inscription at the bottom of this icon is a quote from Luke 8:48:
Вера твоя спасе тя: иди в мире / Vera tvoya space tya: idi v mire
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”