The Virgin Singing the Magnificat, the Virgin Carrying the Divine Word: Symbolism and Signs between Byzantine and Western Art

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The Virgin Singing the Magnificat, the Virgin Carrying the Divine Word: Symbolism and Signs between Byzantine and Western Art

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London

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Psalter and New Testament MS 3, fol. 80v, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington (c. 1080): on the illumination, the Annunciation, and the Magnificat; underneath, in the initial letter M the Visitation is nestled. Photo: Dumbarton Oaks

  • Wednesday 2 November 2016
    PLEASE NOTE: This Date Has Passed
    5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

    Research Forum Seminar Room, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN

Speaker

  • Dr Elena Papastravou - Ephorate of Antiquities of Pieria, Hellenic Ministry of Culture

Organised by

  • Dr Tom Nickson - The Courtauld Institute of Art

The message received by the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation led to the conception of the divine Word, the union of God with humans. The dogmatic importance of Salvation related to this event is expressed by the singing of the Magnificat (Luke 1: 44-55) in sequence with the Annunciation and the Visitation. This paper explores similarities and divergences between Latin and Greek artistic traditions, focusing on representations of the Virgin Mary carrying the divine Word in Byzantine and Western art. First, I shall show how different signs (objects or poses) in Magnificat narratives from the Early Christian period were appropriated by later iconographies of the Annunciation. Second, I will analyse different iconographical types deriving from both the Magnificat and Annunciation scenes: the Virgin praying, the Virgin of the Annunciation (l’Annunciata), and the pregnant Virgin (Maria gravida).

This event will be followed by a book launch for Art of Spain and Portugal from the Romans to the Early Middle Ages: Routes and Myths by Rose Walker, in the Front Hall.

This event is part of the project Exploring Fourteenth-Century Art Across the Eastern and Western Christian World, organised by Maria Alessia Rossi (Courtauld Institute of Art) and Livia Lupi (University of York).

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