Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

The Annunciation

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    Normandy (possibly, made)
    Netherlands (southern, possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1540 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stained glass

  • Museum number:

    394&A-1874

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case BAY1 []

The Annunciation imagery refers to the moment at which the Archangel Gabriel tells the Virgin Mary that God has chosen her to be the mother of his Son, Jesus Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit, God was made flesh/became human through her, the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation. This is the fundamental tenet of the Christian faith, so it is not surprising that images of the Annunciation occur very early. The earliest one is believed to be a wall painting in the Catacomb of St Priscilla in Rome, which dates from the 3rd or 4th century.

The conception of Christ is usually depicted by a dove representing the Holy Sprit descending from heaven. Sometimes God the Father is visible in the top corner, as we see in this panel. Here a scroll bearing Gabriel's greeting connects the archangel with the Virgin Mary. In translation it reads: 'Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women'.

St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1154), one of the most revered Christian theologians, wrote that the Annunciation took place in the springtime, and so you often see a vase of spring flowers. They are often depicted as lilies, a symbol of the Virgin's purity. The church fixed the celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation in the year 336, when it settled on 25 December as the Feast of the Nativity. The Annunciation was calculated to be nine months earlier than Christ's birth.

We do not know where this window was installed originally. We do know that it was donated by a husband and wife, because we can see their small figures kneeling in prayer at the feet of Gabriel.

Physical description

Two panels with arched tops. The Annunciation. Two donors are represented on a diminutive scale.

Place of Origin

Normandy (possibly, made)
Netherlands (southern, possibly, made)

Date

ca. 1540 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Stained glass

Marks and inscriptions

Ave Gratia Plena Dominus tecum
Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you

Dimensions

Height: 61.875 in, Width: 27.25 in

Historical context note

The Annunciation imagery refers to the moment in which God was made flesh/made human, the Incarnation. Thus the two natures of Jesus Christ, both divine and human, are as one at the moment of his conception in the human Virgin Mary. This is most often depicted by a dove descending from Heaven, sometimes with God the Father visible in the top corner as we see here in this panel.

There is a scroll connecting the archangel Gabriel with the Virgin Mary which bears the text, in translation, 'Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed art thou amongst women…'. This is what Gabriel said to Mary and it is considered the moment of Christ's conception.

As this is the fundamental tenet of the Christian faith, the Incarnation of Christ, it is not surprising that we find images of the Annunciation very early in the Christian Church. The earliest known representation is believed to be a wallpainting in the Catacomb of St Priscilla in Rome and dates from the 3rd or the 4th century.

St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1154), one of the Church's most revered theologians, wrote that this event took place in the springtime and so in scenes of the Annunciation you often see a vase of spring flowers. These flowers are often depicted as lilies and they have a long association with the Virgin and are a symbol of her purity. The church had fixed the celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation in the year 336 when they settled on 25 December as the time of the celebration of Christ's birth, the Nativity. The Annunciation feast was backdated from then nine months.

It is not known where this window was installed originally. We do know that it was donated by a husband and wife because we can see their small figures kneeling in prayer at the feet of Gabriel.

Descriptive line

Two panels of clear and coloured glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain depicting the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary. Made in France or in the Netherlands about 1540

Labels and date

THE ANNUNCIATION

The archangel Gabriel approaches the Virgin, who kneels at a prayer-desk with the Dove of the Holy Ghost above her. The angel's words are shown in Latin on a long scroll, which in translation read: 'Hail, thou who art full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou [among women]'. Two unidentified tiny donor figures kneel in the foreground on the left.

France (Normandy?) or Southern Netherlands, about 1540
Museum no. 394-1874 [(PW) 2003]

Materials

Stained glass

Categories

Christianity; Stained Glass; Religion

Collection

Ceramics Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.