The Annunciation

Object Details


The Annunciation


Dieric Bouts (Netherlandish, about 1415 - 1475)




Louvain, Belgium (Place created)


about 1450 - 1455


Distemper on linen


90 x 74.6 cm (35 7/16 x 29 3/8 in.)

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The angel Gabriel interrupts Mary at her devotions and announces, "You shall conceive and bear a son, and you shall give him the name Jesus." (Luke 1:31) In an attitude of humility, Mary sits on the plain tiled floor, eyes downcast, and raises her hands in surprise. Gabriel, dressed in white with multi-colored wings, kneels and points towards the circular window above, indicating the presence of God. With his other hand he draws back the curtain of the canopy.

Dieric Bouts painted the scene in a lucid and spatially convincing setting. The room at the left is simply described: a barrel ceiling, a marble column with two steps leading up to the room, and a stained glass window. A mood of solemnity, suitable for prayer, pervades the scene. In this somber setting Bouts's use of bright red for the drapery seems unusual. It may signify the Passion, forecasting the death of Christ, or it may be purely decorative since Bouts used this color in other compositions.

The Annunciation belongs to a set of five paintings that originally constituted a polyptych representing scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. It was probably the upper left panel of an altarpiece that included paintings of the Adoration of the Magi, Entombment (upper right), Resurrection (lower right), and perhaps the Crucifixion in the center.

- about 1810

Foscari Family (Venice, Italy), possibly sold to Diego Guicciardi, about 1810.

about 1810 - possibly 1837

Count Diego Guicciardi, 1756 - 1837 (Vienna, Austria; Milan, Italy), by inheritance to Paolo Guicciardi, possibly 1837.

possibly 1837 - 1858

Paolo Guicciardi, by inheritance to Diego Melzi, 1858.

1858 -

Count Diego Melzi (Milan, Italy), by inheritance to Giuseppe Casanova.

by 1872 -

Giuseppe Casanova, died 1888 (Milan, Italy)

- 1984

Private Collection (Germany and/or Switzerland), sold to Artemis Fine Arts Ltd., Harari and Johns, and Eugene Thaw, 1984.

1984 - 1985

Artemis Fine Arts Ltd. (London, England)

1984 - 1985

and Harari and Johns, Ltd. (London, England)

1984 - 1985

and Eugene Thaw (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1985.

Esposizione d'arte antica (August 26 to October 7, 1872) (Cat. 40; attributed to Lucas van Leyden)
  • Palazzo di Brera, (Milan), August 26 to October 7, 1872
Illuminated Manuscripts from Belgium and the Netherlands (August 24, 2010 to February 6, 2011) (Cat. 40; attributed to Lucas van Leyden)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), August 24, 2010 to February 6, 2011
Related Media
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    Audio: The Annunciation - Italian (Highlights)
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    Audio: The Annunciation - German (Highlights)
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    Audio: The Annunciation - English (Highlights)
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    Audio: The Annunciation - Spanish (Highlights)