Jacques Bellange, The Annunciation, an etching

France AD 1614-16

Etching and engraving of the Annunciation to Mary

In this signed etching, Mary has been interrupted at her respectable feminine employments of spinning (the balls of wool in a basket) and pious reading (the open book on a stool). She is dressed in the voluminous clothes suited for elegant leisure and moves with the deliberate stylishness admired in 16th century courts.

Jacques Bellange (1575-1616) was painter to the court at Nancy, capital of the independent duchy of Lorraine, from 1602 until his death in 1616. He has adapted the angel of this Annunciation from a painting by Caravaggio that had arrived in Nancy in about 1610 (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nancy). However, in contrast to Caravaggio's naturalism, Bellange's angel has the courtly elegance of Mannerist Netherlandish prints. The angel's astonishing hairstyle, silhouetted against a burst of divine light, is a characteristic piece of Mannerist bravura. His etching style partly depends on the prints of Federico Barocci or Barocci's pupil Salimbeni, who employed a similar stipple on the flesh and who used straight, cross-hatched lines to create areas of tone.

Prints achieve a wide distribution, which may have been Bellange's purpose in producing them. Although he was famous in his lifetime for his paintings, these have not survived. His forty-eight etchings, filled with exotic figures from the court of his imagination, preserved his reputation for posterity.

Find in the collection online

More information


A. Griffiths and C. Hartley, Jacques Bellange, c. 1575-1616, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)


Height: 339.000 mm
Width: 320.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1875-7-10-345



Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore