The Annunciation of the Lord

February 28th 2015


Anonymous, Annunciation, around 1130-1149, tempera on wood, 238x168 cm, Moscow, Tretyakov Gallery


The ‘icons’, the richness of the spirituality of the people from the East, accompany the journey of ‘art and meditation’ in this new period. 


The icon shows the two main characters of the Gospel scene. On the left, the archangel Gabriel, sweet and firm in the movement of the blessing arm. On the right, the Virgin Mary. Looking carefully, we can note some characteristic features of the representation.

Mary wears a green and blue tunic, blue is the color that indicates human nature. The mantle is instead red, representing the divine nature. It is therefore evident from the choice of colours that Mary is the woman (of human nature) that, meek before the work of the Spirit, was covered by the divinity. The small altar step on which Maria stands indicates her sacred and regal dimension.

Mary has her head down in an act of submission to God's will and with the right hand repeats the gesture of greeting of the angel and Jesus takes shape in her: he is symbolically represented in the folds of the mantle. In her left hand, Mary holds a strand of purple that she is spinning for the veil of the Temple: this veil is the body of Jesus that took flesh in her.

 The iconography is very rich as usual, and repeats with very few variants the same characteristics. The icon (from the Greek word "eikon" image =) is the very presence of God, and the faithfulness of the copies to the original confirms its authenticity.


An archangel was sent from Heaven to say to the Theotokos: Rejoice! And beholding Thee, O Lord, taking bodily form, he was amazed and with his bodiless voice he stood crying to Her such things as these:

Rejoice, Thou through whom joy will shine forth:

Rejoice, Thou through whom the curse will cease!

Rejoice, recall of fallen Adam:

Rejoice, redemption of the tears of Eve!

Rejoice, height inaccessible to human thoughts:

Rejoice, depth undiscernible even for the eyes of angels!

Rejoice, for Thou art the throne of the King:

Rejoice, for Thou bearest Him Who beareth all!

Rejoice, star that causest the Sun to appear:

Rejoice, womb of the Divine Incarnation!

Rejoice, Thou through whom creation is renewed:

Rejoice, Thou through whom we worship the Creator!

Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded!

First stanza from Akathist to the Holy Virgin