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The announcing angel salutes the Virgin. Engraving.

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Credit: The announcing angel salutes the Virgin. Engraving. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

About this work


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)


The salutation. Luke Chap. 1. Ver. XXVII. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail thou art highly favoured - the Lord is with thee behold &c.

Physical description

1 print : line engraving


Wellcome Library no. 21704i



  • English

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