Business Logo That Make Up A Triangle Fashion Designer Artist Review – David’s "The Annunciation"

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Artist Review – David’s "The Annunciation"

The “announcement” of David is quite incredible! I sat for two hours on the floor of the Met notes to fully appreciate the message of the painting. I have been truly inspired by what I was able to see for myself as well as engaged the various individuals who stopped to see such a masterpiece.

David is a brilliant painter, he was born in 1455 and died in 1523 and his work is “Dutch”. The “Announcement” is just part of an entire multi-story polytych. The medium is oil on wood and was originally commissioned in 1506 by Vincenzo Sauli; a wealthy banker and diplomat for the high altar of the Benedictine Abby Church of San Gerolamo Della Cervara, near Genoa. The ensemble created a synthesis of northern and Italian artistic forms. David achieved a rare balance between detailed description and heightened exposition.

To begin with, “The Annunciation” is actually two panels standing side by side and complimenting each other, with the action of the Holy Spirit approaching Mary to impregnate her with the Christ child, through the angel of the Annunciation. This is a common motif among many Renaissance artists, but David really captures the moment. The two paintings are an estimated 3′ x 4′ each, and are spaced a good distance of approximately 8″ for full effect.

The Angel of the Annunciation stands alone on the left panel. He is dressed in soft, pale blue robes that achieve a “floating” action about him. The almost iridescent mantle, of red and green color, is inscribed with Latin phrases that disappear within the folds and folds. Movement is achieved through the gesture of action as the angel signals the dove, the Holy Spirit in the right panel, to approach the Virgin.

Action is further suggested by the bent knees, seen through the clothing, as well as with very clear movements from his hands. By creating a mood or anticipatory action, David lets the angel tell the viewer of the painting that he captured that moment in time when he saw it happen. The command gesture with the angel’s right hand places a triangular format between the two paintings. It connects them and allowed me to follow from one panel to the next. His left hand begins a secondary triangle, but with the addition of a three-part golden scepter. The scepter is stretched upwards, towards the area between the paintings, and appears to be pointing towards the sky. The top of the scepter has a pointed crown at the top, with a spiraled middle and finally a smooth handle at the bottom.

The room itself is a modern setting for the time. It is of a simple design with a double-glazed window and almost no furniture. The window itself is divided into four wooden storm panels. The two lower ones are closed and locked with a simple metal lock, but the upper panes also reveal a look upwards towards the sky through lattices made of metal. Nothing recognizable can be seen through the glass, other than the soft tones of a blue sky with clouds. The upper storm doors open inward, welcoming the angel.

The floor in both rooms consists of a type of small sectional tiles that alternate between an almost ivory tone, and are complimented by a soft rose colored alternation in the concentric pattern. In addition, another pattern has also been added to the tiles. The second pattern is set, (alternating), with a softer blue than the angel’s suit and a light shade of green. The tile lines, as with the overall perspective of the pieces, go towards the upper area between the paintings and follow the line of the scepter. Although the story is supposed to be in the same room, David seems to have made the same room, in fact, in two separate places. An important note is that in the right panel, the floor that Mary is on has a hole in the lower left corner at the bottom. There is a stone barrier, or ledge, that seems to allow her separation from the dark void visible through that hole. I feel that David is trying to show that her separation is from the world below and the annunciation takes place on a higher plane than in the same ungodly world.

The walls of each painting are primarily wood paneled, but the left portrait has a bluish fresco-type cement topping it about halfway up. The blue of the cement is slightly darker than the angel’s clothes and again allows the angel to stand out from the painting and from the corner of the room itself. There is a fireplace behind the angel, although he stands in front of it, blocking one’s view, to break up the flatness of the wall.

The look on the angel’s face seems to say, even without words, that all will be well; a kind of heat that comes from within. To help with the warmth, there are two burgundy cushions that lie across the bench along the wall. They seem very soft and comfortable, as with the scene. In turn, they connect the left half of the dyad, with the right, by completing a line, (horizontal), across to the top of the small wooden table. On that table is a Bible supported by a third, smaller pillow that sits in front of the Virgin. It is open to no particular page, but the traditional rendering of David’s painting, such as Robert Campin’s “Merode Altarpiece,” would be consistent with the scene as written: the Bible is either open to or implied by the Annunciation. The pages flap randomly and do not reflect any specific point in the book.

The main path of vision originates from the angel, then crosses to the painting proper and focuses on the Holy Spirit, the dove, finally to the Virgin. The dove is positioned right at the center and above Mary’s head at the top of the stage. The bird’s flight path leads to the ultimate destination to be with Mary. There is a golden radiation with a bluish tint around the bird, from a source behind it. Virgo also has the same radiance behind her head, but hers is not as radiant and lacks the bluish hue.

Mary’s face looks grim and possibly scared. Her hands are crossed, open across her chest as she kneels before the Bible. Her gaze stares directly at the viewer of this work, but it also gazes past them. I feel that the face can be pulled further from the stage, by the dress she is wearing. The dress is a brilliant and rich royal blue color with a golden design along the hem. As with the angel’s robes, the drapery folds created on both figures are comparable to Jan Van Eyck’s. They give a depth and feel to them, as with all the fabrics in the paintings.

A white ivory jar marks Mary’s right side. Three white lilies spring from it. These lilies signify the purity of the moment…the holiness. That sanctity is added with a soft red velvet bag lying in front of her, on the floor. There is a set of rosaries without a crucifix spilling out towards Mary from that bag. Since the rosary is dedicated to Mary, I take it as a gift from God for her future role as the mother of the Christian savior, Jesus Christ. A circular path is achieved around the painting from these rosaries, to the dove and back to the angel. It is a well-balanced production.

Just behind the Virgin is a bed covered with a dark blue cloth. The bedding originates from extensions of the cloth that originates from two tendrils above the view. They come down to swallow the bed all the way to the floor. Again, David’s use of a slightly contrasting shade of blue allowed me to draw from the paintings, all the key elements. Blue is a common motif in “The Annunciation”.

Light symmetry is also a factor for both panels. The left has a lighter appearance. I assume that since the presence of the angel, in addition to the open panels of the upper windows, the set of paintings reveals this difference in that way. In the right panel, Mary is enveloped in a darker light. This darker appearance may be due to the Holy Spirit being the “light” of that room, in addition to Mary’s illumination behind her head. Mary’s lighting appears to be very secondary in the scene.

As I said earlier, perspective lines are implemented to give depth to the work. The only failure that David achieved was the bottom shelf of the table under the Bible. That shelf is out of perspective. It took a while to figure it out though. Apart from the one discrepancy, all elements of the rooms are beautifully set in a multi-point perspective. The main line of sight goes towards the center area between the paintings in a 45-degree pyramidal direction from the tiles.

David’s other paintings from this polyptych are masterpieces such as “The Rest on the Flight into Egypt,” “The Crucifixion,” “The Nativity,” and “The Virgin and Child and Four Angels.” I got to see them all. Each drew my attention away from the Met and into the scenes. I really grew from my visit and will return to this newfound art treasure.


1. Art History: Revised Edition; volume 2; Marilyn Stokstad; Harry N. Abrams Inc., Publishing 1999

2. Metropolitan Museum of Art; Gerard David “The Annunciation”

3rd FA18 @ Suffolk County Community College; 2000

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