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The Annunciation

Unknownaround 1000

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

This panel must have decorated the cover of a book. Due to its monumental character, it occupies a stylistically isolated position. Both figures are wearing simple garments of a kind that recall the ancient world, the folds of the cloth underlining the narrative content of the scene. The archangel Gabriel, seen in profile, is gazing fixedly at Mary, his right hand raised in a speaking gesture, his left hand gathering up his garment. The resulting tensely bundled folds of fabric, which are used to emphasize his gesture, match the analogous, though looser, draping structure of Mary’s cloak. The woman, who will give birth to the Son of God, seems to be listening to the angel’s words with her head slightly bowed; her open hands, emerging from her cloak, are also indicative of a receptive response to the message. The two figures are standing on mounds of earth, and between them a tree grows upwards, dividing the scene into two sections like parts of an arcade. Branches grow from the twisting trunk, ending in leaves that touch the acanthus ornamentation of the frame – it is as if nature were blooming anew in the face of the unfolding story of salvation.

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