Beatrice Emma Parsons
- Beatrice Emma Parsons
signed Beatrice Parsons and dated 1897-9 (lower left)
- oil on canvas
- 45 by 72 in.
- 114.3 by 182.9 cm.
The Artist, 1899, vols XXIV, XXV, and XXVI, pp 140-1, 141 (illustrated)
Hobhouse and Christopher Wood, Painted Gardens, London, 1988, pp. 29-33
The Annunciation of the Virgin Mary is recorded in Luke, 1:26-38. In the sixth month after the conception of St. John the Baptist by Elizabeth, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the Virgin Mary, at Nazareth, a small town in the mountains of Galilee. The angel speaks "Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women." Long a subject of artists, Parsons chooses this pivotal moment of the Annunciation to portray the innocence and vulnerability of a young woman faced with the important responsibilities of motherhood. As described in the Gospel, Mary having heard the greeting words of the angel could not speak; she was fearful as she did not understand the responsibilities foretold. While the virginity of Mary has always held theological importance, with this work Parsons uses it to emphasize the humanity of the scene. Parsons powerfully captures the vulnerability of Mary, dressed in white and standing among a field of Madonna lilies, a symbol of the Annunciation. Also seen growing in Mary's garden are red roses, emblematic of Christ's Passion. The Holy Spirit, represented according to the traditional iconography of scenes of the Annunciation as a Dove fluttering above the Virgin's head, is here translated into a group of birds sitting on the roof of the Virgin's cottage.