The Annunciation

Object Details

Title:

The Annunciation

Artist/Maker(s):

Jean Bourdichon (French, 1457 - 1521, active Tours, France, early 1480s - 1521)

Culture:

French

Date:

about 1480 - 1485

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment

Dimensions:

Leaf: 16.4 x 11.6 cm (6 7/16 x 4 9/16 in.)

See more

See less

Domine labia me aperies et os meum annunciabit laude[m] tuam (Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise), declare the words beneath this miniature of the Annunciation. This sentence, taken from a verse of Psalm 50, opens Matins of the Hours of the Virgin. Following the traditional iconography of the Hours of the Virgin, the illuminator illustrated each of the eight devotions with an episode from Mary's life.

The Virgin prays in her private Italianate chapel, just as the manuscript's owner may also have done. The angel Gabriel interrupts her and announces that she will give birth to Jesus. Above Gabriel and the Virgin, the Holy Spirit in the guise of a dove flies toward the future mother of God on a stream of golden rays of light. This supernatural light shines on the Virgin and angel below, creating highlights on their deeply colored gowns.

The Virgin and angel's voluminous gowns give weight to their bodies, contributing to the miniature's three-dimensional quality. From Jean Fouquet, his predecessor as court painter at Tours, Jean Bourdichon learned to use geometry to create monumental figures, symmetrical compositions, and the credible illusion of three-dimensional space.

Related Works
Exhibitions
Illuminated Books of Hours (July 22 to October 3, 1986)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), July 22 to October 3, 1986
Quand la Peinture était dans les Livres (October 16, 1993 to January 30, 1994)
  • Bibliothèque nationale de France, (Paris), October 16, 1993 to January 30, 1994
Five Hundred Years of Manuscript Illumination (February 11 to June 1, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 11 to June 1, 2003