Master Bertram
The St. Peter (Grabow) Altarpiece: Detail, The Annunciation

1379-83
Oak, polychrome, approx. 11 x 23 in. (28 x 60 cm.)
Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany

This is a rare example of the kind of Annunciation later denounced by Molanus. He objected to images in which the Father dispatches a baby toward Mary, because that would imply that Christ's humanity derives from his divine father. In Catholic theology Jesus is both fully divine and fully human, and the source of his complete humanity is his human mother.

The image is an early example of Annunciations in which the angel finds Mary kneeling at a prie-dieu with a book. The book on the reading-stand behind her appears in earlier Annunciations. The multiplicity of books squeezed into this small image and the detail of her fingers turning a page emphasize Pseudo-Matthew's remark that the young virgin "was always engaged in prayer and in searching the law."

The angel is unusually close to Mary, probably because of the image's size and proportions. The scroll records his words in Luke 1:28, Ave Maria gratia plena dominus tecum, "Hail full of grace, the Lord is with thee."


The Grabow Altarpiece (open state), originally created for St. Peter's Church, Grabow, Germany

More of The Annunciation

Source: Wikimedia Commons.