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May 07, 2012


Beth, so wondeful to see these Annunciations. The second one I think was the most memorable for me of many of Fra Angelico's works which we saw in the San Marco. I'm transported back to a fantastic holiday we had in Italy in 1993, with almost a week in Florence - an unforgettable experience for me to see so much art that I'd only seen in art history class slides and in books.

How exciting to see the beginnings of a print here. Isn't it fascinating where/when inspiration strikes? Have fun with this and do show us more.

I found myself wondering whether these figures might be another showing of the continents that meet in the place so few ever visit and about which you have been writing, drawing, photographing this year.

Oh, I love what you're doing here. Glorious!

Marja-Leena, I am dying to go to Italy for the same reason you loved it. Have never been, all these years, and hope we'll make it someday before too long.

Vivian: well, you never know! "Annunciation" can have many interpretations, even for older women like us ;-) I'm considering putting my angel and Mary in different clothes...and a different "garden."

Thank you so much, Rachel!

One of the only paintings that has stayed with me from my many months of Art History classes was Tanner's">http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/104384.html">Tanner's Annunciation - it's something of what I could imagine the moment actually being like, if I could believe the moment actually happened. I love the look on Mary's face in that last of Fra Angelico's though - somewhere between "yes" and "you've got to be kidding me."

Whoops! Here's the link: http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/104384.html

I love this post and the print you are working on. Amazing!

We have a print of that second Fra Angelico (the one from the Convent of San Marco) hanging over our bed! J's a big fan of Renaissance Italian art, so our bedroom is full of Madonnas, both with and without child. (We also have a print of Botticelli's Annunciation, with its wonderful colors and dance-like postures.)

Beth, that's a terrific take on the Annunciation theme, I love it! I'm so glad you were inspired by my borrowing of Fra Angelico's striped wings - if there are angels, I want them to have wings like that!
My dear departed friend the poet Roy Marz (who is the winged figure in my image) would have loved your version and probably included it in his series of poems on Annunciation paintings. They were published in Poetry Magazine and I have copies somewhere which I should send you.

I love all the Fra Angelico paintings you've chosen to show but my favourite is the top one, for its simplicity,tremendous colour and striking composition. The more ornate and decorated they become, the less they intrigue me although I recognise their beauty. You simply must go to Italy one day - you will swoon before the artistic glories everywhere on view.

Personal Space: It's startling how compressing the distance between Gabriel and Mary gives this a much more hostile and uncomfortable, confrontational feeling, to me at least. Deeply unwelcome news from an authority figure? Or is it just me?

G: yes, that's what I felt as I moved the figures, too. In spite of singing a Magnificat every single Sunday afternoon for three years, I've always felt that Mary would have reacted with shock, horror, and disbelief, and that the story smacked of patriarchy. More generally, I want to say something about how the awareness of our purpose in life often comes as unwelcome or difficult news, and is met at first with resistance.

My interest in Renaissance paintings has a Turkish twist, of course. Many of them feature Turkish carpets (often used as hangings or covers for pieces of furniture) and I did wonder if the fabric behind Mary in the third Annunciation could be one. The final version reveals a brocade-like fabric which could also have originated in Turkey. The earliest carpet was recorded in the 13th century (on a wooden altar piece somewhere in Italy - I shall have to look it up)and trade between the various states in Italy and Turkey was well established by the time these were painted. The carpets were horrendously expensive hence their usage in paintings to show wealth of those paying for the painting/the subjects.

My reaction was a bit like G's, Beth. What a challenging, as well as beautiful project. These paintings are among the first I ever loved when I began to look at great art for the first time in an 'art appreciation' class in my last year at high school. Anything that plays on images set so deep inside me is going to be very powerful. But your take is powerful in itself too. Your last comment above moves me very much. I'd love to see more if/when there's more you feel like sharing.

This is a fascinating project. To think that this work is so old and yet seems as fresh as yesterday.

Time, perhaps, to play with some articulated paper maquettes!

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.