Annunciation after Lorenzetti

Oil painting Annunciation after Lorenzetti ©Michelle Arnold Paine 2012

Annunciation after Lorenzetti, Oil on Canvas, 6×6, ©Michelle Arnold Paine 2012

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I love the brilliant blue and of Mary and her contemplative gaze in this Annunciation altarpiece by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Lorenzetti was a Sienese painter in the first half of the 14th century and this work of his is presently housed in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Siena, Italy. My version is tiny, only 6″ x 6″, but I’m looking for the contemplative quality he captures…

Annunciation, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, 1344

I first encountered the image of the Annunciation when I went to study in Italy in 1997. As an Evangelical Protestant, all of these images of Mary which decorated literally every street corner were somewhat perplexing. In particular the image of the Annunciation when used as an altarpiece troubled me. If Jesus is the center of the Mass shouldn’t Jesus be the center of the image, as well?

It was several years and a lot of reading and study before I realized the profundity of the Annunciation image: this moment is the moment of the Incarnation – when the Holy Spirit becomes human in the womb of Mary. And his Incarnation is lived every day on the altar in the Eucharist, when Christ comes to each of us in the bread and the wine. And so Jesus IS at the center of the image – at the moment of humanity’s embrace of the Incarnation, and so the very beginning of God’s life on earth.

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