Monday, July 18, 2016

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

Note God the Father appearing in the middle of this altarpiece!

From the notes for this work (Walters Museum of Art): This relief is from an altarpiece that probably depicted the life of Christ. The Archangel Gabriel appears to the Virgin carrying a scroll upon which his salutation: "Ave Maria gratia plena" ("Hail Mary, full of grace") probably appeared, as it does on the version below. God the Father holds an orb representing the universe and blesses the event. The vase of lilies, an allusion to the Virgin's purity, is often found in Annunciation scenes. The flamboyant sweep of Gabriel's immense wings, which encompasses the donor, a Franciscan monk*, and gently caressing the Virgin, is a feature shared with reliefs from a workshop that flourished from the 1390s to the 1440s in the neighboring towns of Joinville and Vignory in northeast France. Most of these reliefs were intended to be painted.
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*Eventually, the curators may learn that Franciscans are not monks but friars.
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