The Annunciation (1609) El Greco Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This painting was one of a number of different interpretations of The Annunciation produced by El Greco. This particular piece was completed in 1609 and resides today within a private collection.

The large artwork combines many technically challenging aspects, from the tiled floor which makes use of perspective, to the highly complex array of figures near the top of this scene. The drama and emotion which was typical of the artist can all be found here, as can the heavily contrasting tones of colour where light and dark tones are placed alongside each other. Venetian art had influenced the young Greek and we see examples of that in the use of bright tones on the clothing of Mary and Angel Gabriel, with yellow, pink and light blue included. Behind the main content, there are much darker areas which allows the key components of the composition to really stand out. It is unfortunate that Annunciation from 1609 is currently unavailable to the public but other artworks based on the same theme do exist within public collections, such as Annunciation (1596 to 1600) in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain. The artist died just a few years later, in 1614, and there are some suggestions that after this point further adjustments were made by his son, Jorge Manuel.

The Annunciation marks the point at which Mary is told that she will conceive a virgin birth to a son, with the information relayed to her by Angel Gabriel. This straight forward content has been captured by hundreds of artists across different art movements and even El Greco found different ways to cover the same theme just within his own oeuvre. Within this version from 1609 we find the angel himself with large wings, whilst opening his palm to Mary. She looks shocked and astounded by the news, as she holds her right hand up, with her palm open. They are within a fairly bare room, with some plain wooden furniture and a tiled floor which is carefully crafted to make use of the principles of perspective as the lines slowly come together at a invisible point in the far distance. The furniture also follows the same angles, giving a consistent look. Our focus centres first on the two figures in the foreground, before we then look upwards to see a stunning visual display of colour, emotion and energy with other figures towards the top of the painting.

In terms of the top content, a white bird swoops down, whilst a flurry of light gives the impression of these figures appearing from the heavens, in line with the overall religious theme of The Annunciation. Many women are depicted within that part of the painting, some sat in a grand manner, whilst another is surrounded by young babies, connecting to the overall theme of the piece. There are then a number of larger babies wrapped in bright tones of colour which gives a maternal feeling to this section. The style of this piece, with a long, narrow format continued into many El Greco paintings, with other similar items including the likes of Resurrection, Crucifixion and also Adoration of the Shepherds. There was a clear progression through the artist's life as he took in different influences from Italy and Spain but his devotion to portraiture and religious topics continued throughout, as did his unusually expressive manner which helped him to produce a unique body of work which inspired artists from later centuries.

The Annunciation (1609) in Detail El Greco