Annunciation (c.1604; Spain) by El Greco

Annunciation - El Greco - c.1604; Spain

Artwork Information

ArtistEl Greco
Datec.1604; Spain
Art MovementMannerism (Late Renaissance)

About Annunciation

The artwork “Annunciation” by El Greco, created around 1604 in Spain, is an oil painting on canvas associated with the Mannerism movement, which is considered part of the Late Renaissance period. The painting belongs to the genre of religious art and captures a significant moment in Christian narrative and theology.

In this depiction of the Annunciation, we see a divine scene within a tondo or round-format composition. The angel Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary to announce that she will conceive Jesus, the Son of God. The figures are elongated and stylistically rendered, embodying the Mannerist characteristics of exaggerated proportions and emotional expressiveness that El Greco is known for. The angel, on the left, seems to be descending from above, garbed in flowing robes and with wings unfurled. A divine light, perhaps symbolizing the Holy Spirit, radiates from between the angel and Mary creating a focal point that connects heaven and earth.

Mary, on the right, is depicted dressed in a robe with a rich red hue and a contrasting dark mantle, with her hands in a gesture of acceptance or prayer. Her expression seems contemplative and serene, capturing her humility and devotion. Beside her, on a small table or pedestal, we see a book, which likely represents the scriptures, and a white lily in a vase, often used as a symbol of Mary’s purity in art. The overall color palette is composed of rich tones that create a spiritual and otherworldly atmosphere. The spatial composition draws the viewer’s eye in a diagonal from the angel towards Mary, underscoring the dynamism and tension typical of Mannerist works.

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