Wednesday, December 16

A Dutch take on the Annunciation

Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

-Luke 1:34

Merry Christmas everybody! As the story goes, Mary first learned of the Lord's will to send his only Son out into the world by immaculate conception from a visit by the angel Gabriel. This is formally called the Annunciation and is the subject of so many renaissance works. Rogier van der Weyden, a famous dutch artist from the early 15th century, used many Christmas themes as subjects of his paintings. Weyden, along with Jan van Eyck, epitomize the style of Renaissance art from Northern Europe at the time. The artists both painted their own versions of the Annunciation.

The Annunciation, c. 1430s
by: Jan van Eyck
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The Annunciation c. 1440
by Rogier van der Weyden
Musee du Louvre, Paris

These two works have a lot of similarities.

Per usual, the Virgin Mary is painted in rich blue drapery. Deep blue was a color worn by empresses dating back to the Byzantine Empire. Lapis blue was also the most expensive dye for painters for a time and therefore was reserved for only the most special aspects of a work. The ever pious Mary is shown in both works with what was most likely a gospel book in front of her. The angel Gabriel wears a fabric with an intricate design. Even the carpet in the two works is painted with a bold pattern. Mary's hands are held up in the air, ever ready to take in what the Lord has in store for her.

As the anniversary of Christ's birth draws near, take the time to appreciate all of the Christmas art we've got to show you!

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