The Mariapfarr Altarpiece: Detail, The Annunciation

15th century?
Pfarrkirche, Mariapfarr, Austria

The painting follows 15th-century norms rather closely. It is set in a small room in a bourgeois home fitted out with domestic objects that invite symbolic interpretation. (Thus, for example, the hourglass whose sands have nearly run out can suggest the end of the old dispensation.) Mary's book sits on a prie-dieu, an item rarely seen in Annunciations before the 15th century. The vase with flowers, used in Annunciations since the 13th century, is a descendant of the water vessels that appear in Annunciation images as early as the 4th.

On the banderole on the angel Gabriel's scepter are his words from Luke 1:28, Ave Maria gratia plena Dominus tecum, "Hail full of grace, the Lord is with thee." He kneels before Mary, an indication that she has at just this moment become the Mother of God. The dove has just arrived at her forehead, and her crossed arms, a conventional sign of humble acceptance, reference her reply to the angel: "be it done unto me according to they word" (Luke 1:38).

This panel is in the upper left of the Mariapfarr Altarpiece.

View this image in full resolution.
View the entire altarpiece.
Read more about images of the Annunciation.

Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.