Monday, December 11, 2017

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

This week's Annunciation is another one that appears surrounded by smaller images telling the story of Mary's parents, Joachim and Anne, who likewise had their "annunciations" of the unexpected birth of an extraordinary child. The page is from a French Book of Hours c. 1430, and is in the collection of The Morgan Library and Museum.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

Following on last month's magnificent depiction of the Annunciation as the "Hunt of the Unicorn," here is a detail from another image of the same allegory. I cannot find any more information about this specific image, other than its consistent identification with (the walled town of?) Friesach.

For the First Week of Advent, a poetic reflection on the Annunciation:

Not that an angel entered (mark this)
was she startled. Little as other start
when a ray of sun or the moon by night
busies itself about their room,
would she have been disturbed by the shape
in which an angel went;
she scarcely guessed that this sojourn
is irksome for angels.

O if we knew how pure she was.
Did not a hind, that recumbent once espied her in the wood
So lose itself in looking that in it
quite without pairing
The unicorn begot itself!
The creature of light
The pure creature.

Not that he entered, but that he,
the angel, so bent close to her
a youth’s face that his gaze and that
with which she looked up struck together,
as though outside it were suddenly all empty
and what millions saw, did, bore,
were crowded into them: just she and he;
seeing and what is seen, eye and
eye’s delight
nowhere else save at this spot--lo;
this is startling. And they were
startled both.
Then the angel sang his melody.

-- Rainier Maria Rilke

Monday, November 27, 2017

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

Notice the balloon-shaped images in the lower and right margins of this richly decorated page from a 15th century French Book of Hours: in the lower one, God the Father is sending Gabriel on his mission, while in the right margin, Mary sits peacefully reading. In the large picture, the book remains open as Mary turns toward the Angel to receive his message.
From The Morgan Library and Museum.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

 In Christian iconography, unicorns are given different meanings. The
allegorical hunt of the unicorn in the Hortus conclusus [enclosed or walled Garden] symbolizes the incarnation of Christ. 
The setting is the closed garden. Mary is holding the unicorn, a symbol of Christ, in her lap. The archangel Gabriel [blowing a golden horn] appears as both herald of the birth of Jesus and hunter of the unicorn. He is accompanied by four hounds that embody the virtues of truth, peace, mercy, and justice.
Text from Das Stadtschloss Weimar( The Palace at Weimar), page 16, with additions in brackets by The Angelus Project.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

Today's Annunciation is in the frame along the bottom of a missal page; at the very top of the same page, in the center (corresponding to the IHS symbol below) is the dove representing the Holy Spirit.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

This week's image of the Annunciation was completed ca. 1490 by Pietro de Perugino (Peter from Perugia). It can be found in the Church of Santa Maria Nuova in Fano (Central Italy). As for Perugino (whose family name was Vannucci), not only was he teacher to the artistic genius Raphael, he also contributed to the Sistine Chapel!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

The Annunciation in this page of a Book of Hours (from The Morgan Library and Museum) is portrayed as the grand outcome of the other incidents which tell the story of Mary's parents, long identified as Anne and Joachim. According to the beloved story (the "Proto-Evangelium of James," written about 100 years after Christ) the experience of Joachim and Anne more or less parallels the story of Abraham and Sarah. Like the patriarch and his wife, the couple had grown old without children, but an angel came to each of them with the promise of a child. We have, then, on this page, a set of three angelic annunciations, two of them in view of the third and greatest.