17th-Century Austrian School, The Annunciation

17th-Century Austrian School, The Annunciation

A beautiful 17th-century oil on canvas depicting the annunciation of the Virgin Mary. This biblical story refers to the moment that Mary is told by the angel Gabriel that she is to become the mother of Jesus Christ.

Luke 1:26–38

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” 

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. 

“May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

This important biblical moment has been depicted throughout the centuries and many of the masters have produced their own interpretations. For instance, in 1472, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) created a fine version of the Annunciation, with Gabriel kneeling before a seated Mary. While Sandro Botticelli (1444-1510) added movement and a sense of drama.

This particular piece was almost certainly designed for public or private worship. Perhaps a church or private chapel. It lacks the refinement of the old masters, yet still describes the story with spirit and symbolism. Note the dove, which symbolises the Holy Spirit’s presence on Earth - with its ray of light shining down on Mary. And the Lily held by Gabriel to represent the Virgin’s purity.

The painting is held within a decorative wooden frame.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 23” x 27½” / 59cm x 70cm
Year of creation: c. 1650
Provenance: Germany
Condition: Craquelure. Some minor paint loss. Historic repairs. Frame with some light age-related wear.

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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