"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus" (NRSV).

In the fifteenth century, Annunciation scenes were highly favored by artists; elaborations on the theme, shown here in the works of Renaissance painter Fra Angelico and a woodcut of Albrecht Dürer.

In traditional renderings of the Annunciation, Gabriel is often bent forward with graceful urgency, signaling with upraised hand the importance of the message he is about to deliver. Mary's pose is usually one of submission, humility, or surprise—expressed by her downcast eyes and hand raised to the heart, as if she had just been struck breathless. Volumes have been written about the symbolism of each object in Annunciation art, such as the use of the Easter lily to represent Mary's purity.

The devout and talented D?mbraced Martin Luther's new theological claims and, among other artists, attempted to create a new style of religious painting for Protestants. This new art was meant to oppose the frilly emotionalism appearing in much Vatican-sponsored art The notion of creating a new kind of art on the eve of a new period in history is not unlike the goal of contemporary Christian artists who wish to continue in the tradition of Christian art, yet say something different to the skeptical postmodern world. Here are the efforts of three such artists.


1. Annuciation, Paul Martin (England, 1988), oil on panel, approximately 6'x7'.English artist Paul Martin converted to Eastern Orthodoxy from Anglicanism shortly after painting this Annunciation. Martin makes two significant alterations to a composition obviously modeled after Fra Angelico's fifteenth-century fresco. In the foreground, ...

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