“The Annunciation” Essay

Fra Angelico “The Annunciation”

In this essay I will describe the painting of Fra Angelico the Annunciation and why it is important to the western art history. I will also present my personal experiences and thoughts that arise when I look at the painting, as well as explain the quotation regarding meeting ourselves in the works of art.

Fra Angelico is the Italian painter of the Renaissance period, who came from Tuscany. His works predominantly reveal Biblical scenes, and contain elements that are conservatively Gothic and progressively Renaissance. His style is simple and in some manner rather childish, and in his works he expresses his profound reverence to God and love to humanity. His manner of drawing is far from being childish; it is geometrical with hard-finished precision (Berenson, 1953).

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The Annunciation from the first glance is very simple. The subject of the painting is taken from the Gospel of Luke, New Testament, when the angel was sent by God to tell Mary that she will give the birth to the child: “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married a man named Joseph, a descendant to David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you…You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus…” (Luke 1:26-28, 31). But I think that the moment that is depicted in the painting is when the angel tells Mary about the blessing to her son Jesus and what will happen to him in the future (Luke 1:32-33). Speaking about the formal elements of the composition, angel is depicted on the left side of the painting and Mary on the right side. The action takes place in a loggia. There is a book on the Mary’s knees. Her face is calm and there is no surprise on it. Mary’s hair is blond, as well s angels, which indicated their purity. Mary’s hands are crossed on her breasts and she silently following what the angel tells her. Angels posture is bent, which can be the sign that he doesn’t have enough time to speak and entered somewhat hastily, or it is done intentionally to place angel’s eyes in front of Mary’s to show that they are equal and there is no angel’s superiority. Angel’s forefinger is directed upward to show the divine origin of his visit and the authority he was sent by. A forefinger on the right hand is directed on Mary, as he is probably telling her that she is blessed and will give birth to the child. Even though the angel is supposed to tell something to Mary, his mouth is closed and there are some letters that flow from him to Mary. He might not used words for speaking, but addressing to Mary’s heart, but still to show that he has to tell important information, author decided to paint words. There is a golden glow around angel.

There are also many important details around the main scene with angel and Mary. There is beaming dove above Mary that represents a Holy Spirit (Grant, 1903). There are also many stars on the sky, which shows that it is night and all the scene might happen in Mary’s dream. Other sign, that it was just the dream is the depiction of the scene from Old Testament, Genesis, when Adam and Eve were driven out from the Garden of Eden: “After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). I guess that it is an interpretation, as on the left upper side of the painting, Adam and Eve are not in garments and the sword is not flaming, but still it is very symbolic as it depicts the beginning.

I would like also to mention the color decisions for the painting; they are bright, intense and pure. Mary wears deep blues and reds, angel- coral pinks and gold.

Bible had always been very important to me not only from the standpoint of being the spiritual food, but also as the only primary source of information regarding the creation of the earth and its early development. And even though the book written by people cannot be called the primary source, it is always very challenging to observe how Biblical scenes are interpreted by other people, especially such talented painters as Fra Angelico. When I look at the Annunciation and assuming that Mary was actually sleeping at the moment and it was just a dream, I remember that when I am asleep I usually find answers for questions that are bothering me. When I cannot find something, the solution comes to me with the dream. What is the origin of the information I receive while sleeping? It can of course be explained from the scientific point of view, but it can equally have the divine origin. Sometimes in dreams and see the future, or can speak to people who are far away.

“Eventually we meet ourselves in the work (of art)”. To me this quotation establishes firm connection between the painting and the audience. All people are different and have different experiences and backgrounds. We all percept works of art from different standpoints and perspectives and that make the work even more precious. The real masterpiece is the work in which each person is able to find something that speaks to his or heart and awakes his best feelings. We are able to open new horizons of our personalities when looking at the works or art, as well as understand ourselves better, comprehend our soles and real desires. When I look at the work of art, Fra Angelico painting, for instance, I feel myself a creator, which can do everything. Genuine works are very inspiring and remind each person of his uniqueness and divine predestination.

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