Images of the Annunciation

'Ecce Ancilla Domini' (Behold the handmaid of the Lord), Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1850
‘Ecce Ancilla Domini’ (Behold the handmaid of the Lord), Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1850.  Rossetti used his sister, Christina Rossetti, as Mary. His brother William Michael Rossetti appears as Gabriel.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s portrayal of the Annunciation is a continuation of the theme begun in his painting The Girlhood of Mary Virgin. The moment that Mary learns she is to give birth to the Christ child has been depicted in art frequently since the Middle Ages. Rossetti’s Ecce Ancilla Domini is shockingly intimate in comparison. We see Mary in a vulnerable position as she sits in her bed with her bedclothes in disarray around her.   Interestingly, Rossetti portrays Gabriel without the stereotypical wings of an angel. Note the diagonal position of the Archangel’s lily; its stem points straight to Mary’s womb. Rossetti chose a simple composition, presented in stark white and primary colors red and blue.

Rossetti would revisit the story of Gabriel’s visitation to Mary again in this 1855 watercolor.

'The Annunciation', Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Via
‘The Annunciation’, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Via

In 1857-58, artist Arthur Hughes painted his rendition of the Annunciation.

'The Annunciation', Arthur Hughes
‘The Annunciation’, Arthur Hughes

Sir Edward Burne-Jones painted the Annunciation more than once.

'The Annunciation, Flower of God', Sir Edward Burne-Jones 1862
‘The Annunciation, Flower of God’, Sir Edward Burne-Jones 1862
'The Annunciation', Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1876-79
‘The Annunciation’, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1876-79

In most Annunciation paintings Gabriel carries a pure white lily, a flower that has frequently been associated with Mary.

'The Anunciation', Edward Reginald Frampton
‘The Annunciation’, Edward Reginald Frampton
'The Annunciation', John William Waterhouse
‘The Annunciation’, John William Waterhouse

Eve is to blame for mankind’s eviction from Eden. Yet women can not be blamed for everything.  After all, Mary was chosen to give birth to the Savior.  I suppose the lesson in that is if a woman is responsible for your downfall, a woman can also bring about your redemption.

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