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Rejection and Collections


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.


Comments (10)

Wonderful post Sandra! I will look at Annunciation scenes with fresh eyes now!

I love to collect street shrines as well.

Good luck with your publishing quest.


I'm sorry to hear about the rejection letters. I've no doubt your book is very good, and the right agent is out there.

I'm a huge fan of the Pre-Raphaelites, and hadn't seen that Annunciation before - thanks!

Here's a link to an "interesting" Annunciation to add to your collection. (Legion of Honor in SF) Notice the awkward kneeling-ish pose of the angel - and the location of its right foot! I do like the sumptuous fabrics and the detail of the holy spirit.



... Speaking of the Pre-Raphaelites ;-) have you been to St. Paul's within the Walls church in Rome? We went to a concert there one night, and I was amazed at the fabulous interior.


Thanks Susie! Street shrines can be so interesting, and once you're aware and start looking for them, they really seem to be everywhere in Italy.

Hi Colleen, that really is a sumptuous Annuncation, thank you for the link. Thanks also for the suggestion about St. Paul Inside the Walls. Another church in Rome that I haven't seen, but it's definitely going on the must-see list!

I'm sorry about the rejection but am glad you're undaunted and continuing to work on Book #2. You are in good company, so keep the faith!

I love Annunciations too and it's fascinating to see all the difference spins on the scene. I think I prefer the more classical ones too.

Hope you have a great weekend.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, I'm sorry to hear about the rejection letters, but I am glad that you're undaunted too and currently working on your second novel. You are such a talented writer. As it did for all the other great writers, I know it will also happen for you.

This is a wonderful collection of the Annunciation. It is so interesting reading your descriptions for each one and then looking at the paintings.

Thank you for sharing your collection of The Annunciation. And I second what Annie said...keep the faith.

Have a wonderful weekend.


Hello Annie, I know you have found some intriguing Annunciations on your travel as well! An Annunciation is actually finding its way into my second novel, so perhaps more research will yield even more interesting versions!

Thanks, Kathy, for your kind words. How is your trip planning going? I'm shocked that airline prices just don't seem to be coming down. Yet.

Hope you are both are having a great weekend!

Your second collection is far better than the first!!!!

I think that one of the reasons the annunciation was painted so often was to convince doubting folks that this really did happen! Love the beautiful religious. I see if I can find mreo to add to your collection whilst in Naples.


Sounds great, Jerry! And if you see some, let me know so I can search for them when I'm in Naples this winter!

Wonderful collection (second one)! Thanks for taking me back to Florence with these beauties as well.

Regarding your first collection although you seem to be taking the positive route - your rejection letters are only temporary - you are in 'good' company with other recipients of the past.

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