On March 25—exactly nine months before Christmas—the Catholic Church commemorates the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel appeared to a young Jewish girl and told her that God would like her to be the mother of the Savior. “How can this be,” Mary responded, “since I know not man?”
In Collier’s “Annunciation,” Mary is a young schoolgirl dressed in blue and white. When the angel Gabriel comes to her, she is reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 7 verse 14, where the prophet proclaims the sign that God will give: “The virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”
Some of the traditional elements can be found in the painting: The lilies are a recognizable symbol of Mary’s purity. The intact glass pane next to the door typifies Mary’s perpetual virginity. And look closely: A dove, representing the Holy Spirit, rests on a nearby house—not presuming Mary’s response but awaiting it.