Interestingly, Fig. 2 also lacks the many symbolic objects and signifiers that would generally remind the viewers of Mary's purity and chastity such as the lilies, the washbasin, the chafe, the chasuble, etcetera (Glover, 2010). Mary is also depicted without Biblical text in her lap and is seated on a plain milking stool instead of the splendid golden throne she is normally depicted seated in. Art historians suggest that the missing symbols because the monks at the convent and monastery knew the story of the annunciation and therefore it didn't have to be as didactic as if the audience were going to be a church-type congregations, and gave room for them to fill in the story for themselves (Harris & Zucker, 2011). Once more, Mary is traditionally painted in a dark blue outer mantle, which is used to represent the heavenly, the divine and her elevated status as the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven. The reasoning behind this is because the pigment blue came from the ground of Lapis Lazuli and was extremely costly and therefore considered a “celestial colour particularly appropriate to be used to paint the robes of Mary” (Shea, 2004:75).
The figures in this very large fresco painting are life-size and painted very plainly and suggests a more intimate and austere mood. Although this is an important event and encounter, both beings are depicted modestly and confined in their facial expressions as if the figures are engaging in an exclusive and personal conversation. (Glover, 2010). This is echoed in the fact that Mary and Gabriel are inclined towards each other, mirroring one another with their arms over their chest in the sign of the cross and their eyes are locked in place as if they were exchanging private confidences.
Despite the fact that Gabriel's wings are beautifully detailed and painted with a flourish of illuminating colour and he is dressed in delicate pink robes, which match Mary's upper half stitched with golden embroidery, there seems to be no immediate recognition that he is in fact an angelic being. There is a strange stillness about the scene and unlike Martini's "The Annunciation", there is no sense of the same awe and horror expressed by the human witnesses at Gabriel's sudden arrival. Mary does not look troubled; rather she seems serenely accepting of her fate. The entire art piece lacks the same kind of 'fanfare' that would have given so many of the religious paintings of the time their atmosphere of the otherworldly and supernatural luxuriousness. With the approach to a new humanist style of art, Gabriel’s approach to Mary depicts a “new, more earthly dimension, displaying the drama of a human encounter” (Von Rohr Scaff, 2002:109-110).
In the late 15th century, the renewed interest in the Classical depiction of the Annunciation in the Early Renaissance matured into what is commonly known as the High Renaissance. This time period marked the peak of technical genius and competence in artists, such as Leonard da Vinci, who paid...