This is a picture I’ve wanted to paint for years, since seeing Fra Angelico’s Annunciation at the Convent of San Marco in Florence. That is a fresco, and about two metres high – mine is just 17cm, and on paper. It’s done in the style of Annunciations in fifteenth century British manuscripts, made with 24 carat gold leaf and, where possible, the pigments that would have been used at that time.
First steps: My image is transferred using red ochre pigment, manuscript gesso is laid down and shaped, five layers of 24 carat loose leaf gold are applied to each area and burnished. I have just started the painting at this stage.
Adding the beautiful blue of lapis lazuli and starting to add colour and tone to the building. The border is done with 24 carat gold laid flat on gum ammoniac.
The finished painting. Fifteenth century angels didn’t have white robes and wings, but were altogether more colourful beings!
Luke 1:26-38 New International Version – UK. In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.’