Tanner’s Annunciation –

It’s back. When I changed templates for the blog, the background painting, Henry Tanner’s Annunciation didn’t transfer, and it’s taken SEVERAL tries to figure out how to bring it back!

I love this painting. Don’t remember where I first learned of it – I heard about it through Fr Benedict Groeschel and my friend Matt at about the same time. Learned this week that it’s in the museum of Art in Philadelphia, and got a very intimate glimpse into what it means to actually get to stand in front of the painting and look at it, from one who has done it numerous times, so often, in fact, that he came to refer to it as “his painting” to his sons. “Let’s go look at Dad’s painting….”

I love this painting. The setting is so simple, so homey. There’s no opulence or grandeur here. The wall hangings and the rug are clearly homespun, the floor local earthenware tiles – it’s a simple home. It’s a believable home – the rug has been kicked up and doesn’t lie flat on the floor – Mary (like me) has not made her bed yet that day –

I love this painting. Look at that angel! No anthropomorphised European males with chin-length, curled-under hair and incongruous wings sprouting too-thinly out of their backs. No! This angel is decidedly Other-Worldly, he conveys all the Mystery of those beings of fire and light whom God uses as His Messengers –

I love this painting! Look at Mary! – no beatific Arian, pale, anemic-looking, frail; this Mary is dark, young, strong; she fits Steve Ray’s description of her as “a tough little Jewish girl with dirty feet!” She looks like a young teenager who might be undergoing all the trauma of changing hormones and the onset of puberty. Look at her hands, her face – incredulous – as Matt said, she looks as if she might be asking, “Are you sure you’re at the right house?” But you can see in her face the coming of that great Fiat: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to thy word.”

You know how this painting feels to me? It feels as if I might have been there, as if I might have just rounded a corner through one of those archways and witnessed it all for myself. I feel the reverence and awe of being an accidental witness to one of the holiest moments in all of human history.


3 thoughts on “Tanner’s Annunciation –

  1. Laura, when, oh when, are you going to write? I mean REALLY write.

    Your words brought tears to my eyes. Ok, more than just a few tears. I had to scramble for the tissue.

    Wow, indeed!


  2. I LOVE this post! Even if I couldn’t physically see this painting I could see it in my mind’s eye from your description!

  3. Laura, this is indeed a beautiful
    painting. I would love to see the original. Because your well-written blog post made me want to see more of Tanner’s paintings, I discovered something else good on-line. At http://www.artchive.com,
    there is The Passion of Christ in famous paintings along with the scripture verse below.

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