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The Annunciation

15th century
Artist/maker unknown, English

Alabaster sculpture flourished in England from the late 1300s until the mid-1500s, and examples were traded throughout Europe. English sculptors specialized in small-scale carvings of religious scenes that could be displayed individually or in groups to form large altarpieces. This panel shows the Archangel Gabriel appearing before Mary to tell her that she will conceive and bear a son, Jesus Christ, a scene known as the Annunciation. God the Father appears at top left of the sculpture, with the Holy Ghost issuing from him to Mary. The delicate painting and gilding of the figures and background and the undercut latticework base of the sculpture are notably well-preserved.

The panel was part of an altarpiece celebrating the Virgin Mary, a popular subject for alabaster altarpieces; another panel in our collection shows the Tree of Jesse and very likely formed the central panel of the ensemble. The museum acquired these and other important medieval objects from the collection of American sculptor George Grey Barnard (1863–1938), whose interest in the art of the Middle Ages was formative to its display and study in this country.

Object Details

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