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Master of Liesborn, 'The Annunciation', probably 1470-80

Key facts
Full title The Annunciation
Artist Master of Liesborn
Artist dates active second half of the 15th century
Series The Liesborn Altarpiece
Date made probably 1470-80
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 98.7 × 70.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1854
Inventory number NG256
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Annunciation
Master of Liesborn

This panel comes from an altarpiece made for the high altar of the Benedictine abbey at Liesborn in the west of Germany, and was probably originally placed to the left of the main scene showing the Crucifixion. It shows the Archangel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary to tell her that she will conceive the Son of God through the Holy Ghost.

The artist has taken inspiration from Netherlandish painting in the attention that he has paid to describing the textures of the room’s furnishings, like the cushions on the carved wooden bench. The one to the far left is covered with a tapestry showing a running stag while the one in the middle has the sheen of velvet and is decorated with a coat of arms woven in golden thread. Beneath the far window is a handwritten prayer pinned to a board.

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The Liesborn Altarpiece


These images once formed part of a large altarpiece made for the high altar of the monastery church of the Benedictine abbey at Liesborn, in Westphalia in north-west Germany. The main panel consisted of a central scene of the Crucifixion, flanked on either side by two smaller individual scenes from Christ’s infancy.

In 1517 two shutters painted by the Master of Cappenberg were added to either side of the Master of Liesborn’s original panel. These showed the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, his resurrection and events that occurred afterwards, such as the Pentecost.

The altarpiece was removed in the eighteenth century and later cut up; only fragments survive. Six images from the main panel are in the National Gallery’s collection: three fragments of the central Crucifixion, two complete flanking images (The Annunciation and The Presentation in the Temple) and a fragment of The Adoration of the Kings, another flanking scene. Two further images come from the shutters.