Mother’s Day Special: Secrets and Symbols of Annunciation Paintings

The second most frequently painted subject in the history of pre-Modern Western art is the Annunciation (the first is the Crucifixion, but this one is less grisly and nicer for Mother’s Day). This is the moment when God sent the Angel Gabriel to tell Mary that she will bear the son of God. There have been whole books and university courses on Annunciation paintings, and it’s a subject that was painted by just about everyone, sometimes more than once.

Particularly in the Renaissance, these scenes developed their own, very specific—and frankly weird—iconography, the symbols laced into the paintings that conveyed theological ideas. In this lecture, we’ll explore some of the most famous and complex Annunciation paintings, including Annunciations by Fra Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Carlo Crivelli, Robert Campin, and Sandro Botticelli. You’ll come away with a strong understanding of how to “read” Annunciation paintings, meaning that you’ll be empowered to interpret any you see in the future at museums around the world.

Please, note:

  • the total duration of the event is 1 hour ( ~ 50mins lecture and 10mins Q&A)
  • the talk doesn’t require any prior training and anyone can join
  • This event will be recorded: the video will be available in 3-5 days after the talk
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Noah Charney
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Noah Charney is a professor of art history specializing in art crime, as well as TV and radio presenter (for the BBC and beyond), and best-selling author of more than 20 books, including a Pulitzer finalist. He teaches online courses for Atlas Obscura, Yale University, and the Smithsonian, and has given talks at venues including the National Gallery and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His most recent books include The Thefts of the Mona Lisa, Brushed Aside: The Untold Story of Women in Art, and The Slavic Myths.

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