Jacques Yverni, French, fl.1410-1438
Title: The Annunciation
Date: c.1435
Medium: Tempera and gold leaf on wood panel
151 x 193 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 1965 (Shaw Fund)
Object Number: NGI.1780
DescriptionYverni carried out commissions for processional banners, altarpieces and stained glass. The attribution of this painting to him is based on its comparison with his only known signed work, a triptych called Virgin and Child Enthroned between St Stephen and St Lucy (c.1420; Galleria Sabauda, Turin).

This painting depicts the Virgin Mary at an altar. the archangel Gabriel kneels before her and announces that she is to conceive Jesus. Bowing her head in acceptance, she gestures to the words Magni?cat anima mea Dominium, (my soul doth magnify the Lord) inscribed on the pages of her book. A vase containing a white lily, a symbol of her virginity and spiritual purity, stands at the centre of the composition. At the top of the scene is the figure of God the Father. emanating from him and towards the figure of Mary are the dove of the Holy Spirit and a tiny figure of the Christ Child. On the left side, St Stephen presents two donors. Dressed as a deacon, he holds the palm of martyrdom in his left hand. On his bloodied head rests a stone, indicating the method of his martyrdom.

Yverni painted the detailed figures and emblems in tempera on a gold ground decorated with intricate punch marks.
ProvenanceA church in Avignon; Chaladon Collection at Chateau de la Grange Blanche, Percieux, by 1845 ; Wildenstein Collection, New York; purchased, Wildenstein, New York, 1965
Label TextThis fifteenth-century altarpiece is full of symbolism. The Angel Gabriel is shown kneeling before the Virgin Mary while informing her that she will have a son. The lily between the two figures represents Mary’s purity. Above, a dove, representing the Holy Spirit, guides the tiny figure of the Christ Child, sent by God. Saint Stephen is identifiable by the martyr’s palm frond and the stone on his head which was the instrument of his martyrdom. The two small, kneeling figures represent donors who commissioned the painting; their small size conveys their insignificance in comparison to the sacred figures in the painting.