Text from The Guardian with translation.

The Guardianの記事と、意訳です。


The Christmas story in art: archangel Gabriel appears before Mary


The annunciation is a favourite Christmas story scene among artists. Here are the top five


theguardian.com, Tuesday 24 December 2013 10.28 GMT
theguardian.com 2013年12月24日(火)10:28GMT

The Christmas story in art is a rich epic with different moods and tones that speak to different emotional needs. The adoration of the Magi offers artists a spectacle of rich clothes, long cavalcades, rare gifts. The adoration of the shepherds is humbler and more spiritual. But the most introspective and mysterious moment in the story is the annunciation – the appearance of the archangel Gabriel to Mary to tell her she will give birth to the son of God.


Medieval and Renaissance artists painted the annunciation again and again. It was popular in art long before the Renaissance dwelt on all those glitzy Magi. Annunciation scenes are profound moments of enigma in which a woman encounters the divine in the quiet of her home. They include some of the most powerful visionary paintings of all time.


Leonardo da Vinci heads the top five annunciations with a dreamlike youthful masterpiece. The angel has wings with incredibly realistic feathers: it looks as if, in this early painting that he did in Florence in around 1472-1475 when he was still in his 20s, Leonardo is already thinking about the possibility of human flight. His angel is a bird-man. But it is also an angel, and Mary shows her perturbation and awe at the message she receives. Her garden and bedroom are painted in miniscule, hallucinatory detail: a view past tall Tuscan trees reveals misty mountains in a world that hums with portent.


Image: Wikipedia
『受胎告知』(Annunciation)、1475年 – 1485年、ウフィツィ美術館(フィレンツェ)。

Second in the annunciation top five is a daring and unexpected take on the tale. In his Virgin Annunciate, painted in about 1476, Antonello da Messina does not show the angel at all. Instead, he concentrates on an intimate portrait of Mary as she absorbs the holy information. The leaves of her book seem ruffled by a divine breath: the holy spirit agitates the air. Mary is reserved, modest and contemplative. This is a shatteringly intense painting.


Image: Wikipedia

Simone Martini’s annunciation uses far simpler methods than Leonardo and Antonello. Painted around 1333, with Lippo Memmi creating a gothic structure for his panel, he does not have the other artists’ Renaissance mastery of perspective and depth. Yet it could be argued that this sets him free to be truly spiritual. The narrow Gothic eyes of Mary and Gabriel lock, in a moment of revelation and truth. Mary arcs her body with feeling against the golden ether.


Uploaded on 20 Nov 2011 by Smarthistory, Art History at Khan Academy

Two great religious artists with very different personalities complete this mystical top five. Fra Angelico was a true holy man whose greatest achievement was his decoration of the religious house of San Marco in Florence. Each monastic cell has its own eerie painting. A highlight of the scheme is a perfectly poised annunciation. Mary sits humbly, profoundly aware of her task, in a loggia whose architecture is brilliantly delineated in depth. This a supernatural moment in a very solid three-dimensional space.


Image: Wikipedia
『受胎告知』(1437年 – 1446年)

Fra Filippo Lippi was – like the saintly Fra Angelico – in holy orders, but by contrast he was a bad friar. It was said that his patron Cosimo de’ Medici had to lock him in a room at the Medici palace to get him to stay away from lovers long enough to work. Perhaps the painting he was finishing under house arrest was his Annunciation in the National Gallery in London.

Whatever his sins, this is a holy work. Mary is lost in an inner world of prayer and vision. The angel reveres her, even as she reveres the power of God. The annunciation is art’s most sacred moment.



Image: Wikipedia
Artist Filippo Lippi
Year c. 1449-1459
Type Tempera on wood
Location National Gallery, London, UK