Life of Jesus Christ: famous paintings of the Annunciation

Paintings of Mary & the Angel: the Annunciaton 

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Icon of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ

Modern images of Jesus and Mary: Mary in 'The Passion of the Christ'

Modern images
of Jesus and Mary

Birth of Jesus

Finding the Saviour in the Temple, William Hunt, detail

Jesus' family

Photograph by Michael Belk

Jesus and children

Mary Magdalene sculpture

Mary Magdalene

Christ in the house of Martha and Mary, by Velázquez

Martha & Mary

Mary of Nazareth

Mary of Nazareth

Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, Flandrin

Entry to Jerusalem

Jesus and the money changers

Jesus & the money-changers

Painting, Last Supper, Joos van Cleve

The Last Supper

Agony in the Garden, Heinrich, Gethsemane

Agony in the Garden

Spanish wood carving, The Kiss of Judas

Betrayal by Judas

Passion of Christ, Cranach

The Passion

Ecce Homo, by Quintin Massys

Jesus before Pilate

Crucifixion, Francis Bacon

Crucifixion

Jesus taken down from the cross, painting detail

Descent from the cross

Burial of Jesus

Painting of the resurrected Christ

Resurrection

Fra Angelico, angel from painting of the Annunciation

Angels

 


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Gabriel and Mary at the Annunciaton

Mary's dilemma

Filling the jugs with wine: marriage at Cana

Mary to the rescue 
at Cana

Mary as portrayed in the movie 'Passion of the Christ'

Mary in modern films

Joseph's story

Perfect water lily

Mary's story

Angel flowers, white

What is an 'Angel'?

The Annunciation, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, 1850

Paintings of angels

Newborn baby

Childbirth
How women gave birth


 


 


 

 

Mary, a young unmarried girl in the remote village of Nazareth, had a profound experience, a message from God that the gospels describe as the visit of an angel. She was asked to be the mother of a son who would one day be the Messiah. She accepted this awesome task.


Hidden meanings  in Annunciation paintings
  • Light passing through a glass window, or a walled garden, symbolize Mary's chastity.

  • Christians believed the Annunciation took place in springtime - the Annunciation is celebrated on 25 March, nine months before Christmas Day.  So Mary is often shown with a spring flower in a vase, which later became a lily, symbol of virginity. 

  • The archangel Gabriel is winged and traditionally in white. He may be descending towards the Virgin, or standing or kneeling before her. In early examples the angel holds a sceptre tipped with a fleur-de-lys, an attribute of Gabriel, but later he holds the lily. In Sienese paintings he holds an olive branch, a sign of the enmity that existed between Siena and Florence, since a lily was the  emblem of Florence. 

  • Mary is often shown with a book open at the celebrated prophecy of Isaiah (7:14), 
    'A young woman is with child, and she will bear a son . .' 

  • The dove usually descends on a slanting ray of light that touches the Virgin's head or breast, delicately suggesting the moment of conception.

  • Italian Renaissance paintings show Mary in an open loggia, and only rarely in her house. Northern artists put her in an ecclesiastical setting, because the Gothic style with pointed arches and slender pillars symbolized Christianity and the Church. This contrasted with other buildings — rounded arches, plain pillars and domes — which correspond to the architectural style of the eastern Mediterranean, and are therefore symbolic of Judaism. The Virgin is sometimes depicted within or standing at the door of a Gothic building, while nearby the Romanesque crumbles into ruins. 

  • The area in which the Virgin receives the angel is well lit, illuminated by the light of the Christian faith, in contrast to the small dark windows of an 'eastern'  (Romanesque) temple. 


Annunciation, Edward Frampton

Annunciation, Edward Frampton


 

Annunciation, Fra Angelico, 1438

Annunciation, Fra Angelico, 1438

 


 

Annunciation, John William Waterhouse, 1914

Annunciation, John William Waterhouse, 1914

 


Annunciation, Titian, 1522

Annunciation, Titian, 1522

 


Annunciation, Antonello da Messina, 1474

Annunciation, Antonello da Messina, 1474

 


Annunciation, Fra Angelico

 


Annunciation, George Hitchcock, 1887

Annunciation, George Hitchcock, 1887

 


Annunciation, John Collier

Annunciation, John Collier

 


Annunciation, Fra Angelico

Annunciation, Fra Angelico

 


Annunciation, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, 1850

Annunciation, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, 1850

The color white dominates this painting. It is the color of purity and innocence, but it is a cold color too, and is relieved only a little by the limited use of blue, gold and red. The Angel Gabriel offers Mary a lily - a flower which denotes purity - as he asks Mary if she will bear the Christ child.


Annunciation with Saints Ansano and Giulitta, Simone Martini, 1333

Annunciation with Saints Ansano and Giulitta, Simone Martini, 1333

 


Annunciation, Leonardo da Vinci & Andrea del Verrocchio, 1472

Annunciation, Leonardo da Vinci & Andrea del Verrocchio, 1472

 


Annunciation, Jean Hey, Master of Moulins, 1490-5

Annunciation, Jean Hey, Master of Moulins, 1490-5

 


Annunciation, Peter Paul Rubens, 1610

Annunciation, Peter Paul Rubens, 1610

 


The Cestello Annunciation, Sandro Botticelli, 1489

The Cestello Annunciation, Sandro Botticelli, 1489

 


Annunciation, Edward Burne-Jones, 1876

Annunciation, Edward Burne-Jones, 1876

In 'The Annunciation' Burne-Jones chose a vertical and narrow composition, similar to his stained glass designs. Mary looks startled by the angel's appearance. The tilt of her head and the way in which she tightly clasps her dress suggest her acceptance of this event that will change her life forever. It is as if she foresees everything that will happen to her: the honour of giving birth to God's Son but also the sorrow she will experience as a mother losing her son. Notice the relief on the arch: it shows the angel expelling Adam and Eve from Eden. Mary will be the second Eve who helps to redeem mankind.


Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898

Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898

 


Annunciation, Petrus Christus, 1452

Annunciation, Petrus Christus, 1452

 


Annunciation, Gherardo Stamina, 1482

Annunciation, Gherardo Stamina, 1482


Annunciation, stained glass window, origin unknown

Annunciation, stained glass window, origin unknown

 


Annunciation, James Christensen

Annunciation, James Christensen


The Annunciation, artist unknown

The Annunciation, artist unknown

 

 

 

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The Bible text - the Annunciation story

The Gospel of Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." 34 And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" 35 And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36 And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible." 38 And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

 

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Bible Study Guide:  Jesus Christ:  Paintings and Artworks from the New Testament:  The Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel appears to Mary

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Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Fletcher