Friday, 1 December 2017

Friday 1st December: The Annunciation

Well, it's that time again!  Welcome to Blogvent 2017, and this year's theme will be images of the Virgin Mary.  When I announced this to my 11 year old daughter, she looked at me quizzically and said 'What's a Virgin? I don't think I've met any...' which is a damning indictment of our neighbourhood.  As far as Lily-Rose was concerned 'Virgin' is a broadband provider but she knows better now.  I'm sure she'll come back with more questions when she's had a think about it...

Anyway, let's crack on with VirginVent!  And let's never refer to it as 'VirginVent' ever again as that seems somehow very wrong.

The Annunciation (1887) George Hitchcock
Here we have Mary, pottering about in the lilies, awaiting being taken by surprise by some chap with wings.  She is as tall and stately as the lilies, her cloudy-coloured gown topped by her white headdress, echoing the flowers.  The scarf around her head seems to be a bit like a halo, white and diaphanous. She is as pure and lovely as the flowers, highlighting her specialness, her otherness.  It's unusual to see the annunciation without an angel.  Maybe the angel is implied in the flowers, which all reach sort of womb-height.  Then again he might be hiding behind the hedge.  We do love a hedge-lurker, especially a holy hedge-lurker.

Calypso (c.1906)
George Hitchcock (1850-1913) is not someone we've met here very often.  An American by birth, his heart seems to have been in Europe and he worked in Paris and the Netherlands, where he lived for many years. He seems to have drawn some inspiration from Pre-Raphaelite art, for example I find an echo of Rossetti's lilies in his annunciation works, and also in works like Pandora.

Pandora (c.1895)
He has a very delicate palette, each of his beautiful paintings powdery and gentle.  This also wasn't the only time he painted the Virgin Mary, as seen in The Blessed Mother...

The Blessed Mother (1892)
I can't think of a nicer way to start our blogvent, and look forward to the next few weeks and lots of halos, wings and babies. And absolutely shed-loads of lilies.

See you tomorrow!


  1. Can't wait to see what you have to say about the Julia Stephen image by Burne-Jones!

  2. Dear Kirsty
    Woohoo! Advent delights await. (Although I do wish you hadn't mentioned the hedge-lurker, even if it is a holy one - I have issues with them following that disturbing hedge-lurker image you found one year...)
    Mr Hitchcock has somewhat of a Waterhouse-y feel, possibly due in part to the pastel colours and the grassy and flowery meadows.
    I'm looking forward to more treats through Advent.
    Best wishes

  3. that Hitchcock painting is incredible!

  4. Being raised protestant, didn't think much of the Virgin Mary, 'til i married a Catholic (who is now pagan). In my 40's, lying in hospital, dying of cancer, a woman came to my bed. "Don' t be afraid, I am here with you." She glowed, like an inner light filled her. Who was she? "Mary" was the name i heard in my head. Never saw her again. The cancer left me. "I have never seen this before!" the doc said, "there is no sign of cancer... it's like you never had it!". Was it real? Or did i hallucinate? As for me, i believe in the Virgin-mother-goddess who is watching over me.


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx