Painting the Annunciation


A couple of days ago I included this painting in my post “Infinitely Intimate,” a homily on the Annunciation.  I chose it for a couple of reasons.

First, it captures Mary’s mixture of feelings quite well, don’t you think?  Gabriel appears to her and announces that she will bear a child.  She responds, “How can this be?”  The angel also tells her not to be afraid.  Finally, she resolves that, yes, she will do this wonderful task (bear the very Incarnation) as faithfully as she can.  Point is, what a mixture of emotions must have been flooding through her being all at once!–doubt, skepticism, and fear at least, perhaps a lot more.  Don’t you think the painter has done a pretty good job at capturing this in Mary’s face?

The second reason I chose it was because of the artist himself: Dante Gabriel Rosetti.  I know very little about this artist; but he is the brother of Christina Rosetti, a fairly well-known nineteenth-century English poet.  She penned words I hope you’re familiar with, a poem entitled “In the Bleak Midwinter, ” famously set to music by Gustav Holst among others.  (Holst’s setting is in the 1982 Episcopal Hymnal, #112.)  I like to think his sister Christina was his model for this one, though I haven’t been able to verify it.

Anyway, these two reasons compelled me to include this particular painting (of the many many available).  Call me sentimental, idealistic, whatever.  But there’s just something beautiful about sibling artists collaborating in the great conversation.


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