Annunciation (c.1610; Spain) by El Greco

Annunciation - El Greco - c.1610; Spain

Artwork Information

ArtistEl Greco
Datec.1610; Spain
Dimensions291 x 205 cm
Art MovementMannerism (Late Renaissance)

About Annunciation

The painting “Annunciation” by El Greco, which dates around 1610 and hails from Spain, is an oil on canvas artwork within the Mannerism movement, specifically the Late Renaissance period. The dimensions of the work are quite large, at approximately 291 by 205 centimeters, and it falls into the genre of religious painting.

In the “Annunciation” by El Greco, we are presented with a dramatic and emotionally charged depiction of the Biblical scene where the Angel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary that she will bear the son of God, Jesus Christ. The figures are elongated and somewhat ethereal, which is characteristic of El Greco’s unique style that often includes distorted proportions and plays with perspective—hallmarks of the Mannerist movement that sought to go beyond the ideal proportions and harmonious compositions of the High Renaissance.

At the bottom of the scene, on the left, Virgin Mary is dressed in red and blue, her traditional colors symbolizing humanity and divinity. She is depicted with an expression of humble acceptance as she listens to the angel’s message. Across from Mary stands the Angel Gabriel, captured mid-gesture with one hand extended towards Mary, signifying the moment of divine communication. Gabriel’s otherworldly presence is emphasized by the large, detailed wings and the flowing golden garment.

Above these main figures, a host of angels is arrayed around a bright, divine light, which represents the Holy Spirit. These angels appear to be celebrating this sacred moment, underscoring the profound significance of the Annunciation. The overall use of swirling draperies and the dynamic poses of the figures, along with the chiaroscuro and the use of light, create a sense of drama and movement, drawing the viewer’s eye through the composition.

This painting exemplifies El Greco’s distinctive artistic approach, which conveys intense spirituality and emotional depth through its Mannerist aesthetic—a sharp contrast to the measured realism of the earlier Renaissance.

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