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Annunciation to St Anne

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    Styria (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1350-1355 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stained glass

  • Credit Line:

    Presented by Art Fund

  • Museum number:

    C.72-1930

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 9, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Gallery, case WS

This is one of two panels in the Museum's collections (Museum nos. C.71 & 72-1930) which were originally from the north window of the choir of Wallfahrtskirche in Strassengel, near Graz in Austria. Graz is the capital city of the Austrian state of Styria. The panels formed part of a series of windows depicting episodes from the Life of the Virgin Mary. The church was consecrated in 1353 and it is believed that this series of windows dates from that time.

Wallfahrtskirche was restored in 1885 and it was probably at this time that some of the choir windows illustrating the Life of the Virgin Mary were removed.

The Life of the Virgin Mary was a popular subject in medieval devotion. It was illustrated in manuscripts, frescoes, panel paintings, sculpture, textiles and, as here, in stained glass. Very little of Mary's life is recorded in the Canonical Gospels of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Other sources such as popular saints' lives were consulted. One of the most influential collections of saints' lives was the 'Golden Legend' which was compiled in the middle of the 13th century. This text, reproduced many times in the late medieval period, had an enormous effect on the artistic works of the medieval church.

The original sources that the compiler of the 'Golden Legend' used for the life of Mary were what are now called the 'Apocryphal Gospels'. These are texts written in the early centuries of the Christian era that were considered to be non-authoritative and were excluded from the canon that formed the first Bible.

This panel depicts St. Anne at the moment when an angel comes to tell her that she will conceive a child. The angel had already visited her husband, Joachim, to say that Anne would conceive and give birth to a girl who would be called Mary.

This story is an obvious parallel to that of the canonical story of the Annunciation to Mary. The angel informs Mary that she is with child and will give birth to Jesus, saviour of mankind.

Physical description

The elderly St Anne sits on a bench, the base of which is perforated with narrow rounded arches. The bench is under a high canopy, connected to it by two columns rising from its back. The angel stands on the left of the panel, blessing St Anne and with his right hand pointing to heaven. The background is composed of a diaper of stylised oak leaves within diamond-shaped vesicles.

Place of Origin

Styria (probably, made)

Date

ca. 1350-1355 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Stained glass

Dimensions

Height: 104.9 cm framed, Width: 54.9 cm framed, Depth: 3.1 cm framed, Height: 101.2 cm sight, Width: 51.1 cm sight, Weight: 13.1 kg framed

Object history note

From a three-light window in the choir of the Wallfahrtskirche at Stassengel, near Graz. Strassengel
Stibbe, Eugen
sold the panels to V&A
These two panels were originally from the north window of the choir of Wallfahrtskirche (Marian pilgrimage church) in Strassengel, near Graz in Austria. Graz is the capital city of the Austrian state of Styria. The panels formed part of a series of windows depicting episodes from the life of the Virgin Mary. The church was consecrated in 1353 and it is believed that this series of windows dates from that time. They are similar in style to windows in St. Stephen's Church in Vienna which were created between 1340 and 1350 and are associated with the work of the 'Master of Hohenfurth', a Bohemian painter active in the middle of the 14th century.

They were still in situ in 1858 when they were recorded in a government report. It is assumed that they were removed from the church during restoration work in 1885.

They were acquired by the Museum with assistance from the National Art Collections Fund in 1930.

Two other panels from this series of the Life of the Virgin Mary are in the Kuntsgewerbemuseum in Vienna and others are in the Joanneum in Graz (apparently), the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and in Kiev.

Historical context note

These two panels were originally from the north window of the choir of Wallfahrtskirche in Strassengel, near Graz in Austria. Graz is the capital city of the Austrian state of Styria. The panels formed part of a series of windows depicting episodes from the Life of the Virgin Mary. The church was consecrated in 1353 and it is believed that this series of windows dates from that time.

Wallfahrtskirche was restored in 1885 and it was probably at this time that some of the choir windows illustrating the Life of the Virgin Mary were removed.

The Life of the Virgin Mary was a popular subject in medieval devotion. It was illustrated in manuscripts, frescoes, panel paintings, sculpture, textiles and, as here, in stained glass. Very little of Mary's life is recorded in the Canonical Gospels of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Other sources such as popular saints' lives were consulted. One of the most influential collections of saints' lives was the 'Golden Legend' which was compiled in the middle of the 13th century. This text, reproduced many times in the late medieval period, had an enormous effect on the artistic works of the medieval church.

The original sources that the compiler of the 'Golden Legend' used for the life of Mary were what are now called the 'Apocryphal Gospels'. These are texts written in the early centuries of the Christian era that were considered to be non-authoritative and were excluded from the canon that formed the first Bible.

This panel depicts St. Anne at the moment when an angel comes to tell her that she will conceive a child. The angel had already visited her husband, Joachim, to say that Anne would conceive and give birth to a girl who would be called Mary.

This story is an obvious parallel to that of the canonical story of the Annunciation to Mary. The angel informs Mary that she is with child and will give birth to Jesus, saviour of mankind.

Descriptive line

Panel of clear, coloured and flashed glass painted with brown/black pigment. Depicting the Annunciation to St Anne. Originally from the Wallfahrtskirche (Marian pilgrimage church) in Strassengel. Made in Austria (Styria), about 1350-1355.

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

Williamson, Paul. Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2003. ISBN 1851774041
Foister, Susan, Art of Light: German Renaissance Stained Glass(London: National Gallery Company, 2007), 32 p., ill., ISBN 978 185709 348 3. pp. 8-9. ill.
Bernard Rackham, 'Austrian Stained Glass at South Kensington', Burlington Magazine, vol.56, no.327 (June 1930), pp.291-3
Franz Kieslinger, Gotische Glasmalerei on Oesterreich bis 1450, Zurich, Leizip and Vienna, 1928
Austro-Hungarian Central-Commission zur Erforschung und Erhaltung der Baudenkmale, report, 1858
?, 'Stained-Glass Windows: An Exhibition of Glass in the Metropolitan Museum's Collection', Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series, Vol. 30, No. 3, Stained Glass Windows (Dec., 1971 - Jan., 1972), pp. 110-152
Ernst Bacher, Die mittelalterlichen Glasgemälde in der Steiermark, I: Teil Graz und Strassengel, CVMA Austria, vol. III (Vienna, 1979

Materials

Stained glass

Subjects depicted

Saints; Mothers; Maple leaf; Women; Architecture; Maternity; Angels; Diaper-work

Categories

Stained Glass; Religion; Christianity

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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