Monday, February 8, 2016

An ancient Annunciation scene?

This week's New York Times (of all places!) shone the spotlight on ancient wall art from a baptistery in Syria. It appears to show a woman at a well, and was tentatively identified (until very recently) with the Samaritan woman who encountered Jesus at a well, and heard his promise of "living water" (see John 4). However, an ancient tradition in iconography depicts the Annunciation to Mary as taking place at a well, and there are indications that this Syrian painting may be one of the earliest such images: sketches from the 1932 excavation of the site include lines (of text?) that might be Mary's response, and--most strikingly--a starburst near the woman's abdomen: a powerful representation of the Word being made flesh.

The jury is still out on the meaning of the image, and time may be running out for it, as well, given the destructive zeal for plunder by the IS forces on the ground in Syria.

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

The bronze figures of Gabriel and the Virgin by Igor Mitorj are from the left-side door (completed only in 2005) of the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels and Martyrs in Rome (just beyond the Termini train station). The incomplete arms of both figures are the artist's homage to the state of the classical statues that had earlier been on display in a local museum.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

The Annunciation, by Arthur Joseph Gaskin

Gaskin, an Englishman, studied at the Birmingham School of Art. He had not even completed the program when he joined the faculty, later marrying one of his students. He was affiliated with the Arts and Crafts movement, applying its principles to his special work in jewelry, a specialization that shows in the jewel tones of this Annunciation.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Monday, January 18, 2016

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

In this image from the National Gallery of Art, the Annunciation forms the center of a four-panel work by Cosmè Tura (the left panel features St Francis of Assisi; the right the young Franciscan bishop St Louis of Toulouse). The four figures are set in a mountainous area at dawn (presumably; the Incarnation was the first "dawning" of the light of redemption on our sin-weary world).

Monday, January 11, 2016

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

This interesting depiction of the Annunciation by Giannicolo di Paolo (c 1510/1515) features the scene  as two framed paintings (tondo) with a continuous background, as if we were looking through two portholes at an event unfolding on an outside balcony.
From the National Museum of Art.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

Happy New Year!
To help you begin the year praying the Angelus three times a day, here is the first of many Annunciation images for you.

I am sorry I cannot find this 15th century illumination where I originally discovered it: The Walters Art Museum. I can read in the text is "Beautiful Mother" and "We praise you...for seven joys." Presumably this is from a private owner's Book of Hours, which often contained private devotions in addition to the liturgical texts of the Office.