The Annunciation

Accession Number

The Annunciation

Mariano Salvador de Maella

Object Creation Date
circa 1780

Medium & Support
oil on canvas

36 3/4 in. x 28 5/8 in. ( 93.35 cm x 72.71 cm )

Subject matter
This gray monochrome, or grisaille, painting represents the archangel Gabriel proclaiming to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Christ, a theme known as the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38). The dove of the Holy Spirit appears above Mary's head and suffuses her with a subtle radiance as God the Father looks on from the clouds above. This painting was a preparatory study, probably for a much larger fresco painting for a palace or church that was either never finished or has been lost.

Physical Description
In this painting, rendered entirely in gray monochrome, a technique known as grisaille, an angel descends on a bank of clouds toward a woman who kneels on the floor before a prie-dieu. She looks downward and turns away from the angel in a gesture of humility, and her head is illuminated by the light from a luminescent dove in the cloud above her. A bearded man looks down from the summit of the cloud, nearly engulfed in light, and a number of cherubim appear throughout the scene. The robust forms and grounded materiality of the woman's body and the furniture around her give way to light-filled clouds and diffused forms in the upper part of the canvas as the heavenly and worldly realms come together.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
narrative painting

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

angels (spirits)
doves (Columbidae)
oil paintings (visual works)
prayer stools
putti (motifs)

4 Related Resources

Childbearing, birth, midwifery, maternity
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)
The Divine Comedy
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
F20 Millman Gallery Drawing
(Part of: Resources Made by Isabel Engel)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted