Master FVB, The Annunciation, a copperplate engraving

Flanders, AD 1475-1500

The Annunciation in a domestic interior

Flemish painters had represented the Annunciation in domestic interiors since the 1420s. The familiar environment made the religious story more immediate and accessible to the viewer. In this print the tiled floor and receding ceiling beams emphasize the illusion of space. The window on the left floods the room with light, while the shadows on the drapery are carefully shown facing the opposite direction.

The angel Gabriel floats towards Mary to tell her that she will bear a son. His raised hand is a traditional gesture of address. Mary spreads both hands in surprise: 'How can this be? I am still a virgin.' (Luke 1:34). Behind Mary, the undisturbed bed represents both a homely item of furniture and a symbol of her virginity. The throne beside it may point to her future role as Queen of Heaven.

The unidentified artist who signed fifty-nine engravings 'FVB', was the first Flemish printmaker to master the technique of engraving. His nine copies of engravings by Schongauer show his dependence on earlier German examples. FVB's wide range of engraved marks, including parallel lines, cross-hatching, flicks and dots capture a rich variety of texture and display strong contrasts of light and dark.

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Height: 202.000 mm
Width: 157.000 mm

Museum number

PD E. 1-205 (Lehrs 4;PD Bartsch 81,3)



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