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Monday, March 24, 2014

Annunciation by Fouquet


Jean (or Jehan) Fouquet 1420 - 1481
The Annunciation 
From Heures d'Étienne Chevalier
c, 1452 - 1460
Illuminated manuscript
Ms 71, f 6r
Musée Condé, Chantilly


The image is from The Office of the Holy Spirit (Matins)

The setting for the scene is the inside of the Sainte-Chapelle de Bourges commissioned by the Duke Jean de Berry and constructed in 1450

It was razed to the ground in 1757

The Angel Gabriel appears to Mary

Mary is seated on a carpet on the ground on which are two Books: one closed and the other open. They represent the Old and New Testaments

The dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, is above

As can be seen from below all lines of perspective lead towards the statue of Moses on the altar. Moses is holding the two Tables of the Law. The statue is behind the altar which is beneath a large canopy



The BNF of Paris has done several exhibitions on Fouquet and the Heures d'Étienne Chevalier

The great skill and craftsmanship of the work can be seen from the following two images and commentary from the BNF:



The circle of radius OO'', intersecting the previous level of the crown of light passes through the face and hands of the Virgin and the open pages of the New Testament, the new Book of the Law. The circle encloses the torso of the angel Gabriel.

O''X = O'' Y  and both these sides are sides of the pentagon inscribed within the circle. Mary, the angel, the dove and the canopy are all on the edges of the pentagon as well as the circle

Another drawing shows the great labour in draftsmanship in making sure everything is proportionate and all elements are in harmony with each other



It is interesting to compare the Annunciation with "The Second Annunciation" below

It depicts an extra Scriptural story that before Mary died she received a second visit from the Angel Gabriel when he announced that her death was approaching

The story has no Scriptural warrant

It derives from The Golden Legend by Jacob de Voragine as retold from an ancient apocryphal source attributed to St John the Evangelist

The words of the angel and the response of Mary are in very small gold letters

Her response was that she wished the Apostles to be present at her death (Dormition)



Jean (or Jehan) Fouquet 1420 - 1481
The Annunciation  of the Death of the Virgin
From Heures d'Étienne Chevalier
c, 1452 - 1460
Illuminated manuscript
Ms 71, 
Musée Condé, Chantilly

The angel approaches Mary with a palm: the "palma mortis", a symbol of death and of paradise to come

Beside Mary lies an open book: the New Testament

The bed and the table cloth are covered with material with the arms of Étienne Chevalier

The work decorates the Office of the Virgin (Terce)

Other examples of this rare subject include Duccio`s Maestà in Siena