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Audio Stop 201

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Two people with pale, peach skin are situated in a church interior in this tall, narrow painting. The person to our left has long, blond, curly hair, smooth skin, and is smiling. The wings that indicate that this an angel are outlined in royal blue and blend down from blue to green to yellow to crimson. The angel holds their right hand up near their chest, the index finger subtly pointing upwards. Holding a long scepter in the other hand, the angel angles their body towards the woman to our right. The angel wears a gold jewel- and pearl-encrusted crown and a lavishly jeweled long, voluminous robe in a scarlet and shimmering gold brocade. The neck and along the opening down the front are lined with pearls and jewels. The angel looks towards the woman wearing a royal blue dress tied with a red belt at the high waist. Her long brown hair is tied back but one tendril falls over her left shoulder, on our right. She kneels facing us with her raised hands facing outward. Her head is tipped a bit to our left and she looks up and into the distance to our right with lips slightly parted. She kneels behind a book lying open on a low table. A vase of white lilies and a red cushion lies on the floor in front of the table, seeming close to us. The floor is decorated with stories set into square panels, as if inlaid with wood. The church behind and above the people has a row of tall, narrow arches with bull’s-eye glass windows. An arcade of openings like windows supported by columns runs above the arches and sunlight comes in through arched windows under the flat wood ceiling. A white dove flies towards the woman on gold lines representing rays of light from a window at the upper left of the painting. Latin words painted in gold capital letters are exchanged between the people. The angel says, “AVE GRA PLENA.” The letters of the woman’s response are painted upside down and backwards: “ECCE ANCILLA DNI.”

Jan van Eyck

The Annunciation, c. 1434/1436

West Building, Ground Floor - Gallery 39

Broadway set designer Anna Louizos explores the drama and setting of Van Eyck’s painting.

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