Monday, December 25, 2017

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

On this Christmas Day, a glorious Annunciation by Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi. The saints on the side panels are Saint Margaret and Saint Ansanus, for whose altar in the Siena Cathedral the piece had been commissioned. Completed in 1333, it is recognized as one of the medieval era's greatest masterpieces. Read more about it on the website of the Uffizi Gallery (Florence) where it is housed.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

In this image by Antoniazzo Romano, the influential Cardinal Juan de Torquemada (not to be confused with Inquisitor-nephew Tomás) kneels close by Gabriel, introducing three maidens whose dowries he had sponsored. The size of the Cardinal and girls relative to Gabriel and Mary, and not simply their kneeling position, indicates their humble status when compared to the company they are in.

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

Praying the Angelus with Art: This Week's Image

From St Alban's Cathedral (St Albans, England), a detail from the Annunciation window: