Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Joyful Mysteries – The Annunciation, Part VII, In the House

Filippo Lippi, Annunciation
Italian, c.1440
New York, Frick Collection
NOTE:  This essay should be read in conjunction with the one that follows.

O God, who willed that your Word should take on the reality of human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, that we, who confess our Redeemer to be God and man, may merit to become partakers even in his divine nature. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.” 

Collect Prayer used in Masses and the Divine Office on March 25th, the feast of the Annunciation

In the past several years I have written several articles on the subject of the Annunciation.  I have discussed the simplest of images, the introduction of the dove of the Holy Spirit into the iconography, images that set the scene in a garden, setting the scene in the Temple, including images that place the Annunciation in salvation history and the addition of witnesses.  However, the largest category of images has not yet been addressed.  These are the images which are set in a domestic interior, in other words, in Mary’s home, her personal space.  Part of the delay is due to the fact that there are so many images.  Another part of the delay is related to the number of images and that is how to classify them, how to sort them to assist with a useful analysis.  It has taken awhile but now I am ready to proceed.

The Gospel of Luke, which tells the story of the Annunciation, does not specify any particular place in which the encounter between Gabriel and Mary takes place.  The text simply says: “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.” (Luke 1:26-27)  So, although it is possible to say that the encounter took place in a garden, or in the Temple, or anywhere else, the most likely place in which the encounter was likely to have happened is in the home. 

In a Room

The first images setting the scene of the Annunciation in a domestic space would appear to have developed around the beginning of the fourteenth century.  

Jean Pucelle, Annunciation
from the Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux
French, c. 1325-1328
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters Collection
Acquisition number: 54.1.2, fol. 16

Mary appears standing or sitting or kneeling.  Frequently, especially in early works, she is situated in front of or near a bench.  The seat of the bench is sometimes draped in cloth, sometimes cushioned.  It may even have a drape above it.  But it is recognizably a bench, a piece of furniture with a shallow depth intended primarily for sitting.  

Jean le Noir and Collaborators, Annunciation
from the Breviary of Charles V
French (Paris), c. 1364-1370
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Lain 1052, fol. 352

Giovanni di Benedetto, Annunciation
Italian (Milan), 1385-1390
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 757, fol. 302v

from Pelerinage de la vie humaine by Guillaume de Digulleville,
French (Rennes), Second quarter of the 15th Century
Paris, Bibliothequen nationale de France
MS Francais 376, fol. 166v

Masolino da Panicale, Annunciation
Italian, 1425-1430
Washington, National Gallery of Art

Workshop of Robert Campin, Annunciation
Central Panel of the Merode Altarpiece
Belgian, c. 1427-1432
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collection

Mary may be shown to have been working at some kind of textile art, but the largest number of these images show her to have been either reading or praying at an associated piece of furniture specifically designed for praying, which may be called a kneeler or a prie-dieu, or even sometimes, as an altar.

Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Annunciation
Right Exterior Wing of the Ghent Altarpiece
Flemish, 1432
Ghent, Cathedral of Saint Bavo

Images like this extend throughout the entire 700-year period from the fourteenth century until today.

Annunciation, Interior of Devotional Triptych
German (Middle Rhine), 1440
Cologne, Art Museum of the Archdiocese of Cologne 

Dieric Bouts, Annunciation
Dutch, c. 1450-1455
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum

Embroidery with Silk and Metallic Threads on Linen
Netherlandish, Mid-15th Century
New  York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jean le Tavernier, Annunciation
From Miracles de Notre Dame by Jean Mielot
Belgian (Oudenarde), 1456
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 9198, fol. 17

Master of the Dresden Hours, Annunciation
from a Book of Hours
Belgian (Bruges), 1470-1490
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 1077, fol. 37v

Master of Guillaume Lambert, Annunciation
Single Manuscript Leaf
French, 1478
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum

Albert Bouts, Annunciation
Dutch, c. 1480
Cleveland, Museum of Art

Sandro Botticelli, Annunciation
Italian, c. 1489-1490
Florence, Gallerie degli Uffizi

Jean Poyer, Annunciation
from the Hours of Henry VIII
French (Tours), 1495-1505
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS H 8, fol. 30v

Hans Doering, Annunciation
German, c. 1518-1520
Mansfeld, Schlosskirche Sankt Georg und Marien

Titian, Annunciation
Italian, c.1535
Venice, Scuola Grande di San Rocco

El Greco, Annunciation
Greco-Spanish, c.1570-1572
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Paolo Veronese
Italian, 1578
Venice, Galleria dell'Accademia

Agostino Carracci, Annunciation
Italian, c. 1580-1590
Paris, Musée du Louvre

Michel van Coxie I, Annunciation
Dutch, 1580-1590
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum

El Greco, Annunciation
Greco-Spanish, 1597-1600
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Francesco Albani, Annunciaation
Italian, c. 1620-1625
Paris, Musée du Louvre

Matthias Stomer, Annunciation
Dutch, 1620s
Florence, Gallerie degli Uffizi

Matthias Stomer, Annunciation
Dutch, c. 1630-1632
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum
These two paintings by Matthias Stomer illustrate how much the style of an artist can change over a few years as he or she adjusts to new thoughts and influences.

Francisco de Zurbaran, Annunciation
Spanish, 1638-1639
Grenoble, Musée de Grenoble

Francisco de Zurbaran, Annunciatiaon
Spanish, c. 1650
Philadelphia, Museum of Art

Philippe de Champaigne, Annunciation
French, c. 1644
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Eustache Le Sueur, Annunciation
French, 1652
Paris, Musée du Louvre 

Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Annunciation
Spanish, 1660
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Godfried Schalcken, Annunciation
Dutch, c. 1660-1665
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Center

Adriaen van der Velde, Annunciation
Dutch, 1667
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

Adriaen van der Velde, Annunciation
Dutch, 1667
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Annunciation
Italian, c. 1724-1725
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum

Franz Anton Maulbertsch, Annunciation
Austrian, c. 1766-1767
Vienna, Belvedere Museum

Giovanni Battista Cipriani, Annunciation
Italian, 1769
Cambridge UK, University of Cambridge, Clare College

Anton Raphael Mengs, Annunciation
German, 1776-1779
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum

Francisco Goya, Annunciation
Spanish, c. 1785
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts

Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Annunciation
German, 1818
Berlin, Nationalgalerie der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Carl Heinrich Bloch, Annunciation
Danish, c.1890
Copenhagen, Frederiksborg Palace, Chapel

Maurice Denis, Annunciation at the window in prayer
French, 1916
Rodez, Musée Denys-Puech
To Be Continued

© M. Duffy, 2017

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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