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The Annunciation
Nicolas Poussin
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The Archangel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary that she will give birth to the Son of God. The dove of the Holy Ghost hovers above her in a bright circle of light. The Virgin, with her eyes closed and arms outstretched, accepts her role as mother of Christ. Poussin’s treatment of this subject is unusual, showing the Virgin sat cross-legged. Her cloak is usually blue, symbolising heaven, but here it is yellow, signifying hope and purity. Despite the room’s rather plain appearance, the clothing shimmers in the light shining from the left and the angel’s wings are decorated with three vibrant colours.

A wooden plaque fixed to the stone wall or parapet shows Poussin’s signature, the date 1657 and the name of Pope Alexander VII Chigi (1599–1667), who may have commissioned the painting.

Key facts
Artist Nicolas Poussin
Artist dates 1594 - 1665
Full title The Annunciation
Date made 1657
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 104.3 x 103.1 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Presented by Christopher Norris, 1944
Inventory number NG5472
Location in Gallery Room 29
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