Christian over at Smaller Manhattans has an interesting post about Annunciation paintings. He goes through and explicates the Isenheim altarpiece and picks up some interesting points that are packed into the picture.
While we’re sharing Annunciations, to the left is one of my favorites. But Van Eyck, Gabriel looks so happy, and see the dove descending–so small and pure? And the whole thing takes place in a gothic church.
See the robes of Gabriel? So celestial and so crystal clear and real–as if the artist knows that it is the spiritual realm which is hard as diamonds and more real than this physical realm.
See how the artist catches a supernatural luminosity in the whole painting. It is as if these characters transcend their physicality and the whole dialogue is infused with supernatural grace–as it is. So the form and the content are one. The painting–as the blessed Virgin–is ‘full of grace’.
However the treatment of light in the painting is not superficial as it is in impressionistic works. We are not studying the play of light on the surface of the material world. Instead this painter captures the essence of the light within. Study again the light in the two faces. They are like jewels.
Remember what Therese affirms: “In heaven each grain of dust will be a diamond.” Then remember your own destiny in Christ is to be a child of the light and remember what the priest poet Hopkins writes, in Nature is a Heraclitean Fire: “I am all at once what Christ is, ‘ since he was what I am, and This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, ‘ patch, matchwood, immortal diamond, Is immortal diamond.”