Mindfulness and Art: The Annunciation

Gilded altarpiece showing Angel Gabriel telling Mary she will have a son.
Jacques Yverni (fl.1410-1438), The Annunciation, c.1435. Photo © National Gallery of IrelandCredit

Take 5 minutes

Spend 5 minutes sitting in silence, looking at this painting.

Some things to reflect on while looking in silence:

  • How do you feel while looking at the painting?
  • What do you notice? What is your eye drawn to?
    • The artist's lines and marks
    • The composition
    • The light
    • The shadows
    • The colours
    • The forms and shapes
    • The subject
  • What is the mood and atmosphere?
  • Why do you think the artist created the painting?
Detail of Yverni's Annunciation
Detail of Yverni's Annunciation

About the painting

Jacques Yverni (fl.1410–1438), The Annunciation, c.1435

This fifteenth-century altarpiece is full of symbolism. The Angel Gabriel is shown kneeling before the Virgin Mary while informing her that she will have a son. The lily between the two figures represents Mary’s purity. Above, a dove, representing the Holy Spirit, guides the tiny figure of the Christ Child, sent by God. Saint Stephen is identifiable by the martyr’s palm frond that he holds in his left hand, and by the stone on his head which was the instrument of his martyrdom. The two small, kneeling figures represent donors who commissioned the painting; their small size conveys their insignificance in comparison to the sacred figures in the painting. Yverni painted the detailed figures and emblems in tempera on a gold ground decorated with intricate punch marks.

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