November-December 2022 - Annonciation, Ave Maris Stella

November 1, 2022 by Erin Pearce
Artist: Macha Chmakoff (France, Contemporary)

Artist Macha Chmakoff’s beautiful blue and gold painting provides a striking image of the Annunciation of Mary.

In this scene from the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Gabriel is sharing life-changing news with Mary.  At first, Mary is confused by Gabriel’s words.  But Gabriel comforts her saying, “Don’t be afraid, Mary.  God is honoring you” (v. 30, CEB).  The angel goes on to say that Mary “will conceive and give birth to a son, and . . . name him Jesus.  He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High” (vv. 31-32).  Imagine Mary’s surprise!

In keeping with centuries-old tradition, Chmakoff portrays Mary wearing shades of blue.  The angel Gabriel extends a hand toward Mary’s head in a sign of blessing.  Mary humbly bows and holds her hands in a posture of prayer.  Chmakoff’s use of golden light and the moving lines of Gabriel’s robe and wings draw our eyes from the top left of the painting down to Mary, who is framed by an open door.  Their posture conveys the holy significance of their interaction.

Chmakoff’s painting captures a moment in the story that is calm and holy.  But I can imagine that not every moment of Mary’s interaction with Gabriel was this calm.  After all, the news of a baby arriving in anyone’s life is bound to elicit an array of strong emotions.  Take a few minutes to read Luke chapter 1 and pay particular attention to the emotions the characters might be feeling.  Which of these emotions do you most closely identify with as we enter the season of Advent?  Why?

Cover art courtesy of Macha Chmakoff ©Macha Chmakoff. More of the artist’s work can be viewed at, and books containing the artist’s biblical art are available on

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