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The Annunciation

Central Russia

1725-1750 c.
Room 2
Tempera on wood
13.5 x 11 cm
1890 no. 9334

Mary receives the announcement that she would conceive the Son of God from the archangel Gabriel, seated on a golden throne with a tall red foot rest, a furnishing that emphasises the Virgin's royal dignity. A white thread passes over the right hand of the Mother of God, perhaps in reference to the account in the Apocryphal Gospels that Mary was intent on spinning when she was visited by the angel. Gabriel extends his right hand toward her in blessing while in his left he holds the sceptre that connotes him as a heavenly messenger. Above, from between parting clouds, the Holy Spirit descends on the Virgin in the form of a dove. Two tall buildings enclosed by a wall form the backdrop, perhaps in reference to the heavenly Jerusalem and the glory of the Mother of God as the “spiritual Temple” in which the Saviour dwells.

While its language is simple, this icon is distinguished by a certain decorative abundance as seen, for instance, in the depiction of the tiled floor and by the sculptural intent sought in the construction of the bodies through strong contrasts between light and shadow, with features similar to the icons of Christ Almighty (inv.1890 no. 9302) and the Birth of Christ (inv. 1890 no. 9305), likely to have been executed in the same workshop.

Text by
Daniela Parenti
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