October 16, 2017
Beatrice Parsons (1870-1955), Annunciation, 1897-99, oil on canvas, 45 1/8 x 72 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Thomas R. and Diane Stevenson Stone, 2007.
Today’s featured artwork is a highlight from the MOA’s religious collection and is currently on display at the MOA. British artist Beatrice Parsons depicted an Annunciation scene—showing the angel Gabriel proclaiming to Mary that she would bear a holy child—and transplanted the setting from Nazareth to a quaint English Garden.
Replete with traditional symbolism, Mary is dressed in white and stands by a bed of lilies, symbolic of her purity. Forming a halo behind the head of the Angel Gabriel, the rising sun alludes to the beginning of a new era. The Holy Ghost, traditionally shown as a dove above the head of Mary, is here shown settled on the roof of the cottage among a flock of doves. Both Mary and Gabriel are bare-footed, implying that the ground upon which they stand is holy. The fence in the background suggests an enclosed garden, another symbol of Mary’s purity and virginity.