HansMemlingand Sandro Botticelli were among the most noteworthy artists of thefifteenth and sixteenth centuries. During that period, Biblepaintings were dominant because the Roman Catholic had beguninfluencing the entire Europe. The two artists created paintings of“”, an event when the Archangel Gabriel visitedVirgin Mary to inform her that she had divinely conceived and wouldgive birth to Jesus Christ. Botticelli and Memling had a similarsituation from the Bible, but their paintings prove that they hadinterpreted it differently.
Theartworks differ from each other based on thecolor,light and composition. Virgin Mary is the central figure in thepaintings, but each artist portrays her differently. On Botticelli’spainting, Virgin Mary leans towards angel Gabriel forming an “S”.She is wearing clothes that are red and dark green. Mary and angelGabriel’s hands have a bigger role to play in the painting. Atfirst glance, it seems like the Virgin Mary stretches her hands outto defend herself, but a closer look changes that view. The hand onthe slight upright confirms that she is greeting the angel. TheGolden Section had rules and guidelines on how to paint and so,Botticelli’s painting of the hands was following those rules,linking both the halves. These rules are proved by the sections andlines on the painting that are divided based on some ratios. It isfascinating that the angel and Virgin Mary try to touch each other,but there seems to be some invisible force preventing them from that.The doorway shows the two halves at the centre of the artistic work.TheAnnunciation is presented in a jewel-like manner and is set a by theuse of a one-point outlook to provide a deeply recessed spaceillusion.The interior of Mary’s room is shown in dark colours withoutfurniture. It symbolizes poverty. Adrapery panel has been drawn to the back, showing Mary in a posturethat depicts humbleness.This depiction gives a general understanding of Mary’s situationand the obedience in following the angel’s instructions. Itachieved the moment of Annunciation. The artwork’s space is deeplyrecessed. The quare pillars divide the space occupied by Mary andangel Gabriel. The curtain is open to reveal Mary in a peacefulstate. The painting has a jewel-like depiction of the Annunciation.Shadows are not present. Angel Gabriel seems to have just landedbecause his wings remain raised.
HansMemling also realises the Annunciation but in a different way.Through the window, one can see a palatial residence, which looksheavily guarded due to the wall around it. A person is moving towardsthe main gate, and a statue is seen on its left. The sky is clearsymbolizing the angel’s visit. He did not use dark colours inVirgin Mary’s room, which is different from Botticelli’spainting. The Virgin is wearing red and dark blue clothes. Theartists use red colors for the Virgin’s clothing, but they differon the cover fabric. In addition to that, the Virgin was in herbedroom reading a book when the angel visited her, which is also anevent in the Annunciation. Hans did not intend to show Mary’spoverty. He uses bright colours in the room. The angel is dressed ina robe similar to that of a priest, and the bed is present. They mayrepresent the Virgin Mary’s wedding. The painting may have been aleft part of a triptych because of the narrowness, tallness and thecomposition, which has a diagonal inclination.
Thereare many details shown in the painting, and each carries a meaning.For example, the lily in front of the Virgin Mary represents herpurity and virginity. Angel Gabriel’s right hand is placed on hischest as a sign of being humble in Mary’s presence. He is holding across in his right hand. This gesture symbolizes the role of JesusChrist on earth and how he shall be crucified. Memling’s colouringof the room is eye catching because of the fluorescence. Looking atMary’s raised hand, one can conclude that she is inquiring more,but a closer scrutiny reveals that she is flipping a page, or maybe,she has just opened a new chapter. The book that she was reading hasa hidden meaning. It was open on a given page, and we are left tofill the gaps. One can imagine that the page was about a visit fromthe archangel, a prophetic revelation by the Prophet Isaiah.
Inconclusion, Botticelli and Memling were two different people whointerpreted the Annunciation based on their personal understanding.There are many other factors, which contributed to the difference.For instance, the period of their lifetimes was different. Memlinghad a beautiful view of the Virgin’s room in his mind and correctlytransformed it through art. The room has a good bed, a carpet, andcolorful pillows. He also presented a very smart neighbourhood. Onthe other hand, Botticelli uses both the interior and the exterioraspects to prove his point. He shows angel Gabriel slightly far fromMary whereas Memling shows them closer to each other. It is clearthat artists employ different techniques even when they areexplaining a similar situation. Botticelli and Memling are an obviousexample. Art is important in describing various circumstances andconditions. Therefore, we should embrace it.