Temple Gallery

Established 1959

Annunciation - exhibited at the Temple Gallery, specialists in Russian icons

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WW007. Annunciation

Early 17th century
31.9 x 27 cmClick here to convert metric size to imperial

Provenance:  Private collection, Denmark

£8,500 [Sold]Click here to convert price to USD or EUR

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On the left side of the panel, the Archangel Gabriel stands holding a sceptre in his left hand. The positioning of his feet and wings indicate a sense of angelic motion - as if the supernatural being is still in flight. Gabriel blesses the Virgin with his right hand, who is shown enthroned opposite with her feet on a footstall. Mary's right arm is raised at the angel in a gesture of acceptance, echoing the Lukan verse that has become known as Mary's fiat (Latin: 'let it be done'): '"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”' (Luke 1:38) Which is a response to Gabriel's declaration:

And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God... (1:35)

In the top-centre of the panel in a supernal opening filled with celestial clouds is Lord Sabaoth (see below) - with a halo that contains an eight-pointed star - who is sending the Holy Spirit (in the form of a dove) to miraculously impregnate the Virgin with Jesus, the Word of God. As briefly mentioned above, the iconography is based on the event from Luke 1:26-38, which relates the narrative of the birth of Christ. The scene takes place in Nazareth, Galilee.

Lord Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts - the Greek translation of the title of Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible) is the Russian way of depicting God the Father. He typically has a wise, patriarchal look with a white beard - like an older version of Jesus. He has an eight-pointed star in his halo as it signifies the eternal dimension, the dwelling of the Lord. Depictions of Lord Sabaoth became prominent features of Russian icons during the 17th century (e.g. see fig. a), although they were apparent in earlier icons.

Fig. a. Lord Sabaoth (detail), Moscow, 17th century, private collection, published online

The style of our version points to the 17th century. Yet the sense of movement that gives the impression of the Archangel Gabriel's sudden presence on the scene recalls 16th century versions of this subject - which clearly influenced the current object (e.g. see fig. b).

Fig. b. Annunciation, Moscow, 16th century, Ambroveneto Collection, Venice, Italy

Detail Images