The Visitation




On the table, along with a book and a candle, is the Madonna lily, a symbol of the Virgin Mary.



Annunciation Triptych (Merode Altarpiece), oil on oak, 1427-1435.  Workshop of Robert Campin (c. 1375-1444), unknown birthplace, active Tournai. 

Cloisters Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY






The Annuncation, 1453, tempera and tooled gold on panel. 

Zanobi Strozzi, 1412-1468, active Florence, Italy.  Philadelphia Art Museum 




The Annunciation, tempera and gold on wood, 1485-92.

(Allesandro di Mariano Filipepi) Botticello, 1444/45-1510, Forence, Italy.  Robert Lehman collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY from whose website these images.


The balanced and respectful interplay between the divine and human in a tiny and exquisite painting. 

7 1/2′ x 12 3/8 ” or 19.1 x 31.4 cm.






Archangel Gabriel, The Virgin Annunciate, c. 1510, oil on oak panel.

  Gerard David, 1455-1523, Netherlandish.  Robert Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY






The Annunciation, 1515-1520, oil on panel.

  Jean Bellegambe, 1480-1534/36, Netherlandish.  Baltimore Museum of Art


The balanced and respectful interplay between the divine and human represented in an almost-dance of body and hand and glance in an image in which the Archangel is not taller than the seated Virgin.






The Annunciation, black chalk on thick paper. 

 Michelangelo, 1475-1564, born Republic of Florence, died Rome.  Loaned to the Metropolitan Museum, NY in 2017/18 by the Uffizi, Florence.





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At the top,

The Annunciation, black chalk.

Michelangelo, 1475-1564, born Republic of Florence, died Rome;

created for Cardinal Frederico Cesi’s altarpiece in his family chapel in Rome for a  painting by Marcello Venusti. 

Loaned by the Morgan Library, NY to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY in 2017/18.


At the bottom,  

The Annunciation, oil on poplar wood completed before 1546.

Marcello Venusti, c. 1512-1579. Loaned by the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica di Palazzo Corsini, Rome to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2017/18





The Annunciaton, 1898, oil on canvas. 

Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1859-1937, American.  Philadelphia Museum of Art


The first African American to gain international acclaim as an artist, Tanner studied first at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia; and was a student of the celebrated Thomas Eakins who also painted his student’s portrait. 

He was also among the many artists to flee the racism of his native country: he studied and lived in France for many years; and died in Paris.







Annunciation (self-portrait), and detail, 1938, oil on canvas. 

In the collection of the artist’s family

Honoré Sharrer, 1920-2009, American. Loaned by the artist’s family to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2017


The artist’s work was of suffering in war, the status and freedom of women, and of the lives of  the working class and their unequal access to cultural and economic goodies. 

I take it that, at 18, she was announcing her adult autonomy and chosen vocation using a tiny flower of the kind we usually consider a weed and step upon;

and that, in using the noun, Annunciation, for a title, she is comparing her decision with that of the Virgin Mary’s role which was divinely assigned.






Annunciation after Titian, 1973, oil on canvas.

  Gerhardt Richter, German born 1932.  Hirshhorn Mueum, Washington, DC


The artist reproduces exactly a painting by Titian – Annunciation, 1559-1564  – which he has blurred.

Titian’s Annunciation is so well known and so often reproduced that Richter suggests it is no longer seen for what it is. 


Richter’s comment is that the forms of our religion persist.

It remains encoded in our laws and habits and prejudices. In some countries, it remains the ‘established’ religion’ despite minority popular adherence.

While, in fact, we have abandoned the substance of that religion. 





The Sense of Sight, oil on canvas, 1986. 

Christopher Le Brun, British born 1951.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY


The art historical reference in ‘Western’ art to the ‘sense of sight’ relates to paintings of women looking at their faces in a mirror.  The mirror offers more than one view, the study of which may lead to insight and self-knowledge.   

Here the mirror has been replaced with a vibration – of angel’s wings – which is sensed and produces a change of human consciousness.

The angel’s presence fills the picture with a muted and encompassing white light. With an undertone of gold.


In that moment, the Virgin Mary sees herself, in an access of self-knowledge, in an unexpected role.






Annunciation with Seagulls, 1990-91, graphite/watercolor on paper, frame: gold paint/graphite/acrylic paint/shells/glass .

Anne Minich, American born 1934.  Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia


A representation of the intense struggle of a woman to reconcile the devices and desires of her own heart with the accepted model of being and acting like the woman sanctioned by her religious tradition.







The Annunciation and detail, mixed media on paper, 1995 

Deborah Bell, born 1957, South Africa.  Museum of African Art of the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.

A painting from African traditions in which the divine is inherent in all natural forms. 






The Visitation, 2019, ink, acrylic, gouache and graphite on board, 2019.

Donna Backues, American, no date of birth given. On exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia in 2019.


The dynamic, intimate interplay between the divine and human represented as a natural phenomenon:  the rays of the sun saturating a sudden squall of wintry rain in which a woman finds herself as she goes about her daily chores..






5 thoughts on “The Visitation

    1. Thank you for your comment, Luisa!

      It is interesting how women have interpreted this story once they began to be able to tell it!

    1. I do, too. Some time ago, I received a comment for the ‘generosity’ of my images in a particular post. That post had images of the people who build our buildings and or ports.

      The commender was referring to the fact that the great paintings of our tradition rarely show artisanal work and tools and the ‘ordinary’ work of ‘ordinary’ people.

      I wonder whether it was one or more workmen in the workshop of Robert Campin who included Joe and his tools because this painting is attributed to the workshop!


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