Filippo della Valle
The Annunciation

Low relief
North transept, Church of Sant'Ignazio, Rome

Instead of the objects usually placed to characterize the Virgin Mary in this era (book, vase of lilies, prie-dieu), the artist focuses Mary's attention and ours on a basket that the putti are presenting before her. The literal basket can be a survival of earlier iconography that referenced an apocryphal account in which Mary was preparing thread for the Temple veil (example). But this time a cloth covers something heaped inside the basket. Most likely, the viewer is expected to think the of what such a basket usually contains – bread, a fitting symbol for the life that has begun in Mary's womb, symbolizing the body of Christ "given for you" in the sacrament of the Eucharist (Luke 22:19).

Read more about the Annunciation.

Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.