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NETHERLANDISH SCHOOL, CIRCA 1520
NETHERLANDISH SCHOOL, CIRCA 1520
NETHERLANDISH SCHOOL, CIRCA 1520
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PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EAST COAST COLLECTION
NETHERLANDISH SCHOOL, CIRCA 1520

The Annunciation

Details
NETHERLANDISH SCHOOL, CIRCA 1520
The Annunciation
oil and gold on panel
25 x 18 3/8 in. (63.5 x 46.7 cm.)
Provenance
Mr. and Mrs. W.C.H.M. Georgi, the grandfather of the present owner, and by descent.

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Jonquil O’Reilly Old Masters

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Lot Essay

This colorful, devotional panel reflects a lost composition by Hugo van der Goes that was adapted by numerous painters and miniaturists throughout the Netherlands. Depicting one of the most popular themes of Renaissance painting, this particular Annunciation is set within a hybrid space that combines a church interior with contemporary domestic furnishings. The Virgin Mary is seated humbly on the floor before a simple wooden prayer bench. She has been interrupted while reciting her devotions by a magnificent Gabriel, who floats effortlessly into the room attired in a sumptuous gold-embroidered bishop's cope. The Archangel gazes downward while gesturing in salutation, his banderole announcing 'Ave Maria, gratia plena, D[omin]us tecum / Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you.' As a dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, descends from the heavens, the Virgin responds 'Ecce ancilla domini, fiat michi secundum [verbum tuum] / Behold the handmaiden of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word.' The ecclesiastical decorations, namely the columns with richly ornamented golden capitals and the geometric stone designs on the floor, are intended to underscore Mary’s identification with the Church itself, following a pictorial tradition whose origins in Netherlandish painting lie with Jan van Eyck. The statuette of Moses holding the two tablets of the Ten Commandments that appears at upper left is likely intended to be read symbolically as a reference to the Old Covenant between God and Man, functioning as a counterpoint to the Annunciation, which for Christian believers is the start of a New Covenant under Grace. Due to the presence of the bed, the contemporary viewer would also have associated this space with a marriage chamber – the thalamus virginis – in which the Virgin Mary unites with Christ, her son and symbolic bridegroom as described in the Song of Solomon. The vase of lilies in the foreground also carries symbolic significance as a reflection of the Virgin’s purity.

Infrared reflectography of the present panel reveals extensive underdrawing. Executed in a dark, dry medium in a free and confident manner, these sketchy, preparatory designs suggest our Annunciation was created in Bruges. We are grateful to Till-Holger Borchert, Director of the Musea Brugge, Bruges, Belgium, for his advice in the preparation of this catalogue entry.

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