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The Annunciation (L'annonciation)

James Tissot

European Art

According to Luke, an angel appeared to Mary and announced that she would bear the Son of God. Tissot adhered to art-historical precedents for this biblical episode, placing the Angel Annunciate at left and Mary at right. Her white robes, symbolizing purity, set her apart from the pattern-on-pattern furnishings that the artist used to signal the “authenticity” of the exotic Eastern setting. Mary sits on the floor with head bowed and hands open, humbly accepting her role.

In a later passage of his published Bible, Tissot wrote an extensive commentary on the hierarchies and anatomies of angels. Citing biblical texts, he indicates that the cherubim, the angelic messengers he depicted in some of his images, are endowed with the face of a man and three pairs of wings: one pair to veil the face, another to cover the body, and the last used for flight on divine missions.
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1886–1894
    DIMENSIONS Image: 6 11/16 x 8 9/16 in. (17 x 21.7 cm) Sheet: 6 11/16 x 8 9/16 in. (17 x 21.7 cm) Frame: 15 x 20 x 1 1/2 in. (38.1 x 50.8 x 3.8 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Signed top right: "J.J. Tissot"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    ACCESSION NUMBER 00.159.16
    CREDIT LINE Purchased by public subscription
    PROVENANCE 1900, purchased from the artist by the Brooklyn Museum.
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    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION James Tissot (Nantes, France, 1836–1902, Chenecey–Buillon, France). The Annunciation (L'annonciation), 1886–1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 6 11/16 x 8 9/16 in. (17 x 21.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.16 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.16_PS1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 00.159.16_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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