Keystone with Scene of the Annunciation
13 11/16 x 14 3/16 x 3 3/8 in. (34.8 x 36 x 8.5 cm)
Unknown, French or German
French or German; made on the Upper Rhine
Medium and Support:
R. T. Miller Fund
Location: Currently on view
In Christian tradition, the scene of the Annunciation depicts the moment of the angel Gabriel’s announcement to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive a child and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God. Here, the Virgin kneels before a large open book on a reading pulpit. The winged Gabriel faces her, kneeling on the other side of the pulpit. The hand of God emerges from the frame at the top, directing a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, toward the Virgin’s head.
This sculpture was originally an architectural keystone, the central stone of an arch that locks its parts together. The structure of the back of the piece indicates that it probably came from the center of a square vault with four ribs. Its small size and the high level of detail in the carving suggest that it was installed close to the viewer where it could be easily seen, perhaps in a bay of a cloister walk or in a small porch.
[Gallery label text, June 2013]