Botticelli has taken it a stage further and produced a Virgin in a pose of extreme modesty and the result is a figure in a beautifully curved and graceful stance - if somewhat exaggerated. " And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be." Luke I: 29.
Another work, worthy of mention and connected to the theme of my note is that
by Poussin. Here the Virgin has both arms spread wide. Possibly there are two
interpretations to the gesture: one may well be that of startled astonishment at
the news, while the other may be less a surprised astonishment but rather a
considered gesture of "What! Me?"; after all, surely startlement would have
required widened eyes, not thoughtfully half-closed ones. I leave you to decide
which of the two Poussin had in mind - after all, art is what the viewer sees
and not what someone tells him to see!
Lastly I have added something in the
ultra-modern idiom: a detail from the façade of the Basilica of the
Annunciation, in Nazareth, which was completed at the end of the
nineteen-sixties. Here, too, we see Mary "warding-off" the "unwelcome news" with
a raised left hand, while underneath is part of the verse: "angelus Domini
nuntiavit Mariæ." - And an angel of the Lord announced to Mary. To the left
of the windows is the matching figure of Gabriel. Other elements seen on the
façade are the four evangelists and the quotation from John I: XIV; "et
verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis" - And the word was made flesh
and dwelt within us.
As always, my gratitude to Christus Rex and to The National Gallery,
Trafalgar Square, London, for their warm hospitality and
kindness in allowing me access to their sites for this purpose.
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