STRIGEL, Bernhard_El Anuncio a Santa Ana, c.1505-1510_ 380 (1978.48)

MARY – A MASTERPIECE: ‘The Annunciation to St. Anne’ by Bernhard Strigel (1505 -10)

 The story of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary begins not in an atmosphere of good fortune celebrated with pomp and song but rather with rejection, heart-aches, searching souls and an empty womb. Having been spurned and shamed at the Temple of Jerusalem in the midst of a large congregation, Joaquim left his little town of Nazareth and went off into the wilderness to fast and pray. He lamented his fate. Truly, no good could come from Nazareth. The branch of Jesse seemed to have dried and the shoot stifled.

His wife Anna was disconsolate. Childless, she would now be called a widow. How could the Almighty curse the just? How could the God of Sarah and Rachel, Samson and Samuel not hearken to her call of distress? This absolute plight of a barren mother breathes colour and life through today’s painting. Executed by the leading German painter Bernhard Strigel, the panel exudes the triumph of redemption over rejection. Hope was on its way.

In the painting two simultaneous scenes are depicted with utmost realism.  The first scene is set within a tiled room. A sorrowful St. Anne is seen overwhelmed with sadness, mourning and weeping restlessly. As she bows her head to pray, she senses a little tug at her head-dress. However her swollen eyes decide otherwise. She uses her head-dress to wipe away her tears, when once again she senses a nudge.

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