My blogging friend Annie was recently discussing collections, including her interest in acquiring photos of lively dragon reliefs, cats, and street shrines in Venice. In fact, I think she has a lot of us on the lookout now for interesting street shrines.
I have a few collections -- particularly, these days, rejection notes from literary agents. This is not my favourite thing to collect, but I suppose it falls under the heading "paying one's dues." I've recently reached the landmark of 50 rejections for my first novel. These no longer sting nearly as much as they once did. Times are tough in publishing. And I know that I'm in good company: Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, Dr. Seuss, that woman who wrote the The Help....all were rejected by literary agents and publishers many times.
Undaunted, I'm now hard at work on my second novel which just might sell sooner than the first. Or, they'll sell together. Who knows, I might end up with a 10-volume set before this is finished!
But onto a happier collection: I also watch for images of The Annunciation. You know, where the Angel Gabriel appears before the Virgin Mary and announces that she is blessed among women and destined to become the mother of Jesus.
This image was extraordinarily popular during the Renaissance, and I can understand why: it has drama, beauty, an angel's wings, costumes and sets. Like a brilliant play or opera, in a single, perfect scene.
Is this why The Annunciation charms me so? I can't say. I mean, it isn't as obvious as, say, the Nativity where an artist could cram in some fantastic beasts and starry nights and the magic of the First Christmas. The Annunciation is usually produced on a smaller scale and maybe it's that simplicity that appeals.
Once in a while, Others do make an appearance. This one just below, which Piero della Francesca apparently shoe-horned into his Legend of the True Cross frescoes in Arezzo, includes a rare guest spot by God. That's not often seen.
Mind you, Fra Angelico, who painted many wonderful versions of The Annunciation, also wanted to tart this one up by including the Holy Spirit, and off to the left, Adam and Eve before the Expulsion. There is a logic here, of course; if not for their mis-steps, Christianity might not have been required.
And this one, by Ventura Salimbeni, is just odd. Mary appears to be already pregnant, sitting on an orange crate. And why is she staring out at us?
Speaking of odd, here's a 20th century version, by John William Waterhouse, showing Mary fussing with her halo and knitting, apparently. Those Pre-Raphaelites!
As you may have guessed, I really do prefer the classical take on the story.
This fresco scene, from Florence's Baptistery, is remarkable.
An interesting version from Norcia, with a Madonna Enthroned in the middle.