This finely painted work depicts the Annunciation: the Archangel Gabriel announcing to the Virgin Mary that she has been chosen to become the mother of Christ. In a rather personal interpretation of the theme, Godfried Schalcken represented Mary as a young Dutch woman in contemporary dress, holding a loose scroll rather than the traditional book. The swirling clouds at his knees, the pointing gesture, and the bright light around the angel's head betray Gabriel's spiritual status, for he has no wings or traditional symbols to identify him as God's messenger. Bright light illuminates Mary's thoughtful face. Schalcken delicately manipulated light and shadow to describe the folds in Gabriel's white gown and the shadows cast by his outstretched right arm and tilted head.

The small size, high degree of finish, and unconventional treatment of the subject matter indicate that the painting was intended for private devotion.


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