Art is everywhere; from architecture to sculptures, paintings, pictures and even flower gardens. There are many styles and techniques used by artists to capture the eye of a viewer and draw them into the artwork. One such art piece that has this effect is: Mérode Altarpiece (Triptych of the Annunciation) by Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), circa 1425-1430s. This beautiful triptych was painted in oil on oak panels, with the center panel measuring 25 1/4 x 24 7/8” and each side panel measuring approximately 25 3/8 x 10 3/4”. This work of art currently resides at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where it is displayed for all to see. This triptych painting exudes a biblical reference whereas the main subjects are Mary and Gabriel in the center panel, while Joseph is on the right wing panel and the donor is included on the left panel. In viewing first the general and then the detailed observations of this painting, the many aspects of the formal elements will emerge, bringing a deeper and clearer sense of meaning to this triptych.
Campin’s use of vibrant colors in Mary and Gabriel’s flowing gowns against the neutral background of the room bring the viewer’s eye to the center panel where the triptych’s story begins. Mary is sitting on the footrest of the bench reading her bible when Gabriel suddenly appears to tell her about the plan God has for her; that she will give birth to the Christ child. While Gabriel’s words fall on Mary’s ears, a small human form descends, carrying a small cross and following what seem to be rays of light from heaven that align with Mary’s womb. During these moments of Annunciation Mary is being impregnated with Jesus.
Upon closer examination of the center panel, there are many subtle yet significant details to take into account. The rush of wind that accompanied Gabriel as he appeared flipped the pages of the book on the table and extinguished the candle, also on the table. The snuffed candle signifies the...
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