Previous
The Annunciation
Enlarge (20MB) Zoom in
This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Unknown
German, Würzburg, about 1240
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and iron gall ink on parchment
7 x 5 5/16 in.
MS. 4, LEAF 1

Add to Getty Bookmarks

In this elegant miniature of the Annunciation, the majestic figures of the Virgin Mary and the Archangel Gabriel are set against a simple, highly burnished gold background. By eliminating all but the essential elements of the story, the artist heightened the impact of Gabriel's announcement to Mary that she will miraculously conceive the Messiah. Gabriel's outstretched wings and the agitated arrangement of his garments suggest his sudden appearance to Mary and the urgency of the message he brings. With his right hand, Gabriel reaches out to make the priestly sign of blessing, while in his left he holds a scroll recording words inspired by the Gospel of Saint Luke: Ave maria, gracia, domin[us] t[e]cum (Hail Mary, [full of] grace, the Lord is with you). The Virgin Mary in turn raises her hands, astonished at the angel's news that she will bear a child. At the same time, she bows her head in humility, signifying her acceptance of the news.