The Annunciation - Jan van Eyck. 93 x 37 cm
The painting "The Annunciation" was created during the heyday of the work of the Dutch painter Jan van Eyck. At this time, the author bought a house and a workshop in Bruges to stay there until the end of his days.
The story of the appearance of the picture is as follows - the painter was preparing a gift to the Duke of Burgundy, Carl the Bold, one of the most heroic representatives of the famous Valois dynasty. The present was a great triptych on a religious plot. Unfortunately, until today only one fragment of a rather large-scale work has survived - the left wing.
It is not known under what circumstances 2/3 of the triptych was lost. We only know that van Eyck sent his gift to Dijon, the capital of Burgundy in those days, to the Chanmol monastery, where church masses served.
The Annunciation, as an event, is a key moment in the history of Christianity. The Annunciation was followed by a change of covenants: the covenants of Moses were replaced by the era “After Grace” (Sub Gratia). Due to the importance of the event, this plot was very often repeated among artists of the Renaissance.
The van Eyck version is lyrical and attentive to detail. The viewer sees the Virgin Mary and the archangel Gabriel, but here they are not depicted as real persons. Comparing the sizes of the figures and the architecture of the background, you can see that the Virgin Mary and Gabriel are depicted by giants - their heads almost reach the capitals. The columns behind the actors are noticeably rounded, so it can be assumed that van Eyck depicted the altar. Perhaps the lost part of the triptych represented the priest, and the giant figures of Mary and Gabriel are a figment of his imagination, a kind of vision.
In technical terms, the detailed drawing of all the elements is striking. Shine of stained-glass windows, stucco molding on a column, decoration of heroes, diversity and simultaneous harmony and richness of colors (just look at Mary's dress) - all this creates an elevated composition full of color and awe.
Van Eyck's masterpiece was once stored in the Hermitage, but in 1930, the new government, in an effort to “patch holes” in the economy of the newly-minted country, decided to sell works of art without much bargaining. A real tragedy erupted: priceless paintings went for nothing. The same thing happened with Van Eyck's Annunciation. Even abroad, this "action" was condemned. One way or another, for Russia the work was lost - now the painting belongs to the Washington National Gallery.