Thursday, March 27, 2014

Playing Favorites

I did a little blog piece on Fr. Barron's Word on Fire blog for the Feast ofAnnunciation ...narrowed down my favorite Annunciation paintings to ten.  There are so many that paring it down to ten wasn't easy.  But here I can divulge my favorite of the favorites!  Henry Ossawa Tanner's Annunciation from 1898.  Less detailed than some other works, but still containing many elements common to the subject matter.

In looking into the symbolism of the Annunciation I found so many things I hadn't known before.  It was too much to go into in a preamble to ten beautiful paintings that I simply referred to them as "Holy Easter Eggs" - you know, in the non-edible, non-Easter Easter egg sense. 

Of all the Gabriels, in all the Annunciation paintings I've looked at, Tanner's is brilliant.  The dynamic yet soft vision of light that we see is  not what Mary is seeing.  We are given a glimpse into a moment of universal significance, yet Tanner is able to tell the story while preserving the intimacy of the moment.  This was a risky undertaking....a lesser artist could well have tried this and been left with something utterly laughable.  But Tanner made it work. 

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