Devotion for the 4th Week In Advent

Dear Friends in Christ,

Sometimes a story is more beautifully told without words.  Read Luke chapter 1, and ponder these paintings (below) in prayer.  Selected verses for public worship this coming Sunday, Dec 21 are Luke 1:26-38.  Personally, I am most struck by Mary’s posture in the first canvas–she is cowering.  It makes me wonder:  is this Christmas message anything like “Jingle Bells”?!?

Whatever your mood, whatever your circumstances, may the angel of the Lord whisper a greeting of love to you this Christmastime.

 -Pastor HH


Ecce Ancilla Domini! (The Annunciation)  1849-50

Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882

Oil on canvas
support: 724 x 419 mm frame: 1002 x 698 x 88 mm
Purchased 1886

An angel is announcing to Mary that she will give birth to the Christ child. She appears to be recoiling as if disturbed from sleep. This is a radical reinterpretation of the subject. Dante Gabriel Rossetti rejected the tradition of representing the Virgin passively receiving the news. Instead he wanted the picture to have a supernatural realism. White is the dominant color here, communicating the idea of feminine purity. This is reinforced by the lily embroidery – the same one the Virgin is shown making in Rossetti’s painting of The Girlhood of Mary Virgin, on display nearby.

The Girlhood of Mary Virgin  1848-9
Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882

girlhoodOil on canvas
support: 832 x 654 mm frame: 1080 x 905 x 75 mm

Bequeathed by Lady Jekyll 1937

The Virgin Mary is shown here as a young girl, working on an embroidery with her mother, St Anne. Her father, St Joachim, is pruning a vine. The picture is full of symbolic details. The palm branch on the floor and thorny briar rose on the wall allude to Christ’s Passion, the lilies to the Virgin’s purity, and the books to the virtues of hope, faith and charity. The dove represents the Holy Spirit. This was Rossetti’s first completed oil painting and the first picture to be exhibited with the initials ‘PRB’, for Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, inscribed on it.

Both of these paintings are part of the Tate Collection, United Kingdom.

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