Oil on wood
Framed: 75.2 x 69 x 8.5 cm (29 5/8 x 27 3/16 x 3 3/8 in.); Unframed: 50.2 x 41.5 cm (19 3/4 x 16 5/16 in.)
Bequest of John L. Severance 1942.635
Netherlandish artists are known for their attention to lifelike detail: notice the sliver of landscape through the window at the left of this composition.
Mary, depicted here as a seemingly ordinary, albeit affluent, woman, is interrupted by the archangel Gabriel while reading from a small book of hours in her home. The decor and furnishings, as well as the book, would have been familiar to any contemporary viewer. A model for women of the day, the Virgin Mary’s popularity was entwined with the popularity of books of hours, and the books contained numerous prayers to her. Mary was seen as the intercessor between humanity and God, hearing prayers and taking mercy on penitent individuals.
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