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The Annunciation

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    late 15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The crowned Virgin is approached by God the Father, with a small Christ Child proceeding from His mouth. The angel's scroll winds around the lily. The iconography of this image is a later development of the most common type of images of the Annunciation.

Physical description

The crowned and haloed Virgin Mary, wearing a tight-fitting gown and a cloak fastened with a brooch, kneels in the bottom right of the panel on a tasselled cushion, under a turreted canopy. In front of her an open book rests on a desk supported by a cranked column. She turns at the waist to look down at the archangel Gabriel, her right hand raised, her left hand holding a scroll which curves up and across the canopy and which no doubt bore an inscription of her response, 'Ecce ancilla Domini.' Gabriel, wearing a tunicle, alb and amice and a tiara bearing a cross, stands on a small projection on the left of the panel, holding a sceptre in his left hand and pointing with his right at a scroll which curves round the stem of a three-headed lily standing in a ewer at the bottom of the panel and which no doubt carried an inscription of his salutation. God the Father, haloed and bearded and crowned, wearing a loose robe, looks down at the Virgin, from the top left of the panel. He holds an orb in his left hand; his right hand is raised in blessing. From his mouth issues the naked figure of the Christ Child which descends to the Virgin bearing on his back a cross encircled by a crown of thorns. An angel stands in the top centre of the panel, hands raised in prayer.

The top left corner of the panel is missing and the right turret of the canopy is damaged. The head of the angel is missing. The left hand and the orb of God the Father are damaged. The head and shoulders of the Christ Child are damaged. Gabriel's right wing-tip is missing and the left handle of the ewer is broken. The Virgin's right hand and scroll are damaged.

Traces of green paint and the usual daisy pattern remain on the ground at the bottom of the panel. Green paint remains on the lily stem. There are traces of gilding on the crown, hair and beard of God the Father, and on the hair of the Virgin. The back of the panel bears four holes, three of which hold thick latten wires. The bottom has been cut away.

Place of Origin

England (made)


late 15th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved, painted and gilt alabaster


Height: 42.3 cm, Width: 27.2 cm

Object history note

Acquired by Dr W. L. Hildburgh in Paris. On loan from him since 1926.Given by Dr Hildburgh in 1946.

Descriptive line

Alabaster panel depicting the Annunciation. English, late 15th century.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 174 (cat. 101), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0
Hildburgh, 'Iconographical Peculiarities', Folklore March and June 1933.
Nelson, Archaeolog. Jour. CXXXIV, 1927, p. 224, fig. V.I
Burlington Magazine Dec. 1946, p. 292, pl. I.D.


Alabaster; Paint; Gilt


Carving; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Robe; Gown; Book; Lily; Scroll; Ewer; Alb; Desk; Tunicle; Amice; Turret; Cloak; Orb; Tassel; Canopy; Crown; Tiara; Angel; Cushion; Sceptre; Cross; Halo


Christianity; Religion; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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