The Virgin reads her Bible as the angel appears with the Holy Spirit. Engraving by J. Collaert after J. Straet.
- Straet, Jan van der, 1523-1605.
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Bible. N.T. Luke 1.26-35. The light of the Holy Spirit shines down on two pillows on the bed below. A white cat sits on the chair behind Mary; in front of it is a loom, with some thread. In the foreground, a sewing basket sits next to the table, upon which are a vase of lilies and a closed book The attitudes and postures of the Virgin and the angel have varied significantly and even interchanged in Christian iconography. The plethora of differing images of the Annunciation provides a real insight into the history of emotion and its representation in gesture. The variations of the Virgin's posture provide much of the interest. Her hand is usually active; sometimes she is intently studying, sometimes she is in a gesture of almost carnal surprise. She may be glorified, or on the other hand she may kneel. Then the angel varies in relation to her: he might kneel before her. After the Council of Trent, the angel was set in the air, "reacting against", as Réau suggests, "the excessive 'familiarity' of religious art of the 15th century". On these issues, see L. Réau, 'Iconographie de l'art chrétien'. Presses Universitaires de France : Paris, 1957, vol. 2, book 2, pp. 178-187 (particularly p. 182)
Cum te dius amor coelesti aflaverit aura excipies natum gremio virguncula casto. Ioan. Stradan. invent. Ioan. Collaert sculp. Theodor. Galle excud.
[Antwerp] : Theodor Galle excud.
1 print : line engraving ; border 19.3 x 13.6 cm
Wellcome Library no. 21695i