Mathis Grünewald
The Annunciation

Oil on panel, 105.9 x 55.9 in. (269 x 142 cm.)
Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar

The event is set in the Temple, here envisioned as a Gothic church, with the curtains representing the Temple veil. As the angel arrives Mary has been reading a passage from Isaiah taken by Christians as a prophecy of the virgin birth of Christ: Starting on the left the pages of her book read Ecce virgo concipiet et pariet filium et vocabitur nomen eius emmanuel butyrum et mel comedet ut sciat reprobare malum et / eligere bonum [and then repeating:] Ecce virgo concipiet et pariet filium et vocabitur nomen eius emmanuel, "Behold the virgin will conceive and will bear a child, and his name will be called Emmanuel; He will eat butter and honey that he may reprove evil and choose the good" (Isaiah 7:14-15). See below for a close-up of the book.

In the upper corner a statue of another prophet holds what may be imagined to be another prophecy, but I cannot make it out.

According to the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew Mary "was always engaged in prayer and in searching the law" (my emphasis). The artist has thus pictured both the scripture study and the praying, with Mary kneeling before the book with eyes closed and hands pressed together.

The dove, entering with the light from the window, adapts the usual iconography, as do the angel's garments and sceptre.

Read more about the Annunciation.

Source of pictures: Wikimedia Commons