In this signed etching, Mary has been interrupted at her respectable feminine employments of spinning (the balls of wool in a basket) and pious reading (the open book on a stool). She is dressed in the voluminous clothes suited for elegant leisure and moves with the deliberate stylishness admired in 16th century courts.
Jacques Bellange (1575-1616) was painter to the court at Nancy, capital of the independent duchy of Lorraine, from 1602 until his death in 1616. He has adapted the angel of this Annunciation from a painting by Caravaggio that had arrived in Nancy in about 1610 (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nancy). However, in contrast to Caravaggio's naturalism, Bellange's angel has the courtly elegance of Mannerist Netherlandish prints. The angel's astonishing hairstyle, silhouetted against a burst of divine light, is a characteristic piece of Mannerist bravura. His etching style partly depends on the prints of Federico Barocci or Barocci's pupil Salimbeni, who employed a similar stipple on the flesh and who used straight, cross-hatched lines to create areas of tone.
Prints achieve a wide distribution, which may have been Bellange's purpose in producing them. Although he was famous in his lifetime for his paintings, these have not survived. His forty-eight etchings, filled with exotic figures from the court of his imagination, preserved his reputation for posterity.