Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia, The Annunciation

National Gallery, Washington, D.C.

The principal scene is in a bourgeois home, its fourth wall omitted to reveal the figures in the foreground and a bedroom at the end of a long corridor. Both figures make the crossed-arms gesture, on Mary's part expressing humility before the Lord's messenger and on the angel's part humility before the mother of God.

The Father's right hand points ambiguously both to Mary and to Adam and Eve, whom the angel is expelling from Eden. The expulsion scene follows a straight diagonal line that leads to the Annunciation scene, and the posture of the expelling angel is repeated in Gabriel's bow before the Virgin. This arrangement expresses the teaching that Mary is the new Eve and that the coming of Christ in the Incarnation is God's way of redeeming the human race from the first parents' bondage to sin and death. The redemption is symbolized by the difference between Gabriel and the expelling angel, the one pictured with rich garments and a full figure and other with a skimpy loincloth and emaciated torso.

Following the same diagonal that leads from the expulsion to the Annunciation, St. Joseph is pictured warming himself at a fire.

Below the figures of Adam and Eve are three hares painted in similar colors. In late medieval bestiaries hares were examplars of inconstancy, a fault shared with Adam and Eve.

Read more about images of the Annunciation.
Read more about hare symbolism.

Source: National Gallery of Art, Washington