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The Annunciation
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Jean Bourdichon
French, Tours, about 1480 - 1485
Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment
6 7/16 x 4 9/16 in.
MS. 6, FOL. 27

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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.