One of the largest surviving depictions of the Annunciation, this imposing painting may have been the left wing of a triptych, as suggested by its tall, narrow shape and the diagonal thrust of the composition. Its patron must have been a member of the Clugny family, whose coat of arms—the two keys—decorates the carpet and stained-glass window.
The composition is based on a design by Rogier van der Weyden. Possibly commissioned before his death in 1464, it was painted by Memling who, technical evidence suggests, was a journeyman in Rogier's workshop before establishing himself in Bruges in 1465.
Gabriel's annunciation of the birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary was one of the most popular themes in European art. Memling imagined the event as taking place in a domestic interior. Here Mary is diverted from her devotional reading by the arrival of Gabriel, who is dressed in the liturgical vestments of a deacon worn when assisting a priest at Holy Communion, the celebration of Christ's sacrifice for humankind. Mary's chastity is symbolized by the enclosed garden in the background, and her purity is represented by the lilies in the golden pitcher and the transparent water carafe on the shelf above the door.
The two keys—clés unis—in the stained-glass window and on the carpet identify the patron as a member of the Burgundian Clugny family, probably Ferry de Clugny (1410–1483), a distinguished patron of the arts, an eminent jurist, and a member of the Grand Council of the Duke of Burgundy. In 1465, while canon of Autun, Ferry founded the Chapelle Doré in the cathedral of Saint-Lazare. He was named chancellor of the Order of the Golden Fleece by Charles the Bold in 1473 and a year later was consecrated Bishop of Tournai. The painting must predate 1474, when the family coat of arms was altered to include the turreted towers and the golden fleur-de-lis of Tournai. The Annunciation perhaps was commissioned to adorn the Chapelle Doré.
Unusually large for an early Netherlandish painting, The Annunciation may have been the left wing of a monumental triptych, as suggested by its tall, narrow shape and the diagonal thrust of the composition, which is based on the left wing of the Saint Columba Altarpiece of about 1455 by Rogier van der Weyden (Alte Pinakothek, Munich). The Annunciation entered the Museum's collections as a late work by Rogier van der Weyden. But early on certain scholars (Panofsky 1953) disputed that attribution, suggesting instead the authorship of the young Hans Memling. The recent cleaning and restoration of the panel once again reveal the extraordinary sophistication of Memling's execution even at this early stage of his career. Memling seems to have worked as a journeyman in Rogier's Brussels workshop prior to moving to Bruges, where he purchased his citizenship in 1465, and his youthful works show an intimate knowledge of Rogier's motifs and compositions (Faries 1994, 1997, 2001; Ainsworth 1994, 2003; Borchert 2005, 2008; Lane 2009). In particular, the underdrawings—preliminary sketches on the panel—in Memling's earliest paintings of around 1465–70 follow Rogier's characteristic broad layout of the composition using a brush and pen and ink.
[Maryan W. Ainsworth 2010]
Examination of the painting with infrared reflectography (IRR) reveals an extensive, fully developed brush and pen-and-ink underdrawing characterized by angular, schematic contours enhanced with lively hatching to give a sense of volume (see Additional Images, fig. 1). The style and execution of the underdrawing are characteristic of Memling's earliest works of about 1465 to 1470 (see Ainsworth 1994). Changes made by the artist at several stages throughout the creation of the painting are made visible with IRR. Some elements were drawn but eliminated in the painted stage, including a raised page of the prayer book, as if caught mid-turn, and a tall candlestick on the prie-dieu. Several revisions were made once painting began including shifting the position of Mary's mouth and eyes as well as the neckline of her dress and altering the banner fluttering from Gabriel's cross. The latter modification required the lower fork of the banner to be painted over the already-completed shutter. Although this composition was likely modeled on one by Rogier van der Weyden, Memling made it his own by introducing changes during the painting process.
To construct the checkerboard perspective of the tiled floor, incised lines were scored into the light pink-tinted priming, but only in the central portion of the painting. The lack of an incised grid to the left of Gabriel and in front of the carpet may explain why the overall perspective of the floor is slightly off-kilter.
One of the highlights of The Annunciation is the artist's virtuosity in painting materials with a reflective quality. Gabriel's maroon and gold dalmatic displays exceptional artistic skill in the rendering of the pearls and embroidery. The manner in which the gold threads catch and reflect the light across the folded material is achieved with a deft combination of brown and yellow paints. Using a similar combination of pigments, the vessel holding the lilies in the bottom right corner presents a convincing illusion of gold. The partially-full glass on the ledge high in the left corner is impressive in its verisimilitude.
In order to achieve the rich blue of Mary's mantle, the artist layered two blue pigments; a robust foundation of two layers of azurite—a finely divided form of the pigment followed by a more coarsely ground one—was finished with translucent glazes of ultramarine.* Ultramarine, with its richly saturated color, is a very costly pigment that must be applied in large amounts in order to obtain good coverage. By layering ultramarine on top of less expensive azurite, the painter could reduce costs yet still achieve a vivid blue color. The blue passage has unfortunately suffered from physical degradation of the ultramarine pigment and damage incurred from past cleanings, however, careful retouching has helped redress these issues.
[Karen Thomas 2010]
*Pigment identification by Dr. Silvia Centeno, Senior Research Scientist, Department of Scientific Research.
Bertram Ashburnham, 4th Earl of Ashburnham, Ashburnham Place, Battle, Sussex (probably purchased by him; until d. 1878); his son, Bertram Ashburnham, 5th Earl of Ashburnham, Ashburnham Place (1878–1903; sold to Colnaghi); [Colnaghi, London, from 1903]; Rodolphe Kann, Paris (until d. 1905; his estate, 1905–7; cat., 1907, vol. 2, no. 108; sold to Duveen); [Duveen, Paris and New York, 1907; sold for £28,000 to Morgan]; J. Pierpont Morgan, New York (1907–d. 1913; his estate, 1913–17)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 22, 1998–February 21, 1999, no. 10.
W. H. James Weale. "The Annunciation by Roger de la Pasture." Burlington Magazine 7 (April–September 1905), p. 141, pl. 1, ascribes this painting to Rogier's "best period"; identifies the arms in the window and carpet as those of the Burgundian family of Clugny and suggests the painting was made for either Ferry de Clugny, consecrated bishop of Tournai in 1474 and made Cardinal in 1480, or for his brother William, translated from the see of Térouanne to that of Poitiers in 1479; considers Ferry the more likely candidate as he was known to have commissioned other works of art; notes that our composition bears considerable resemblance to Rogier's Annunciation in the Columba triptych in the Munich Gallery [Alte Pinakothek]; states that he first saw this painting in May of 1878 in the collection of the Earl of Ashburnham at Ashburnham Place.
Catalogue of the Rodolphe Kann Collection: Pictures. Paris, 1907, vol. 1, pp. xx, xxi; vol. 2, p. 13, no. 108, ill., calls it an important work by Rogier, bearing the arms of Ferry de Clugny, and one of Rodolph Kann's last acquisitions.
Wilhelm Bode. "Der Verkauf der Sammlung Rudolf Kann in Paris nach Amerika." Die Kunst für Alle 23 (1907–8), pp. 20–22.
Marcel Nicolle. "La Collection Rodolphe Kann." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 23 (January–June 1908), p. 192, questions the attribution to Rogier.
C. J. Holmes. "Recent Acquisitions by Mrs. C. P. Huntington from the Kann Collection." Burlington Magazine 12 (January 1908), p. 205.
W. H. James Weale. "The Risen Saviour Appearing to His Mother: A Masterpiece by Roger de la Pasture." Burlington Magazine 16 (October 1909), p. 160.
B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "The Annunciation by Roger van der Weyden, a Recent Loan." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 6 (October 1911), pp. 194–95, as a late work of Rogier's.
Friedrich Winkler. Der Meister von Flémalle und Rogier van der Weyden. Strasbourg, 1913, pp. 70, 135, calls it dependent on Rogier, from his circle; mentions a pen drawing after the figure of Mary that he saw in Weimar.
Max J. Friedländer. Von Eyck bis Bruegel: Studien zur Geschichte der Niederländischen Malerei. Berlin, 1916, p. 33, as a large and somewhat empty Annunciation from Rogier's last years.
F. M. "Ecclesiastical Vestments in the Museum Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 13 (May 1918), p. 114.
Max J. Friedländer. "The Pictures of Rogier van der Weyden in America." Art in America 9 (1921), pp. 66, 69, fig. 5, as a work of Rogier's later years when his style approached that of Memling; finds the face of the Virgin especially reminiscent of Memling.
Willy Burger. Roger van der Weyden. Leipzig, 1923, p. 66, considers it the work of a pupil of Rogier who was also influenced by Dieric Bouts.
Friedrich Winkler. Die altniederländische Malerei: Die Malerei in Belgien und Holland von 1400–1600. Berlin, 1924, p. 370, as "Brussels school"; observes that its austere spirit makes attribution to Rogier's workshop uncertain.
G. Hulin de Loo. "Diptychs by Rogier van der Weyden—II." Burlington Magazine 44 (April 1924), p. 180.
Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 2, Rogier van der Weyden und der Meister von Flémalle. Berlin, 1924, pp. 31, 106, no. 48, pl. 48, observes that if our impression of Rogier's style toward the end of his career is correct, then this Annunciation must be one of his latest works.
[Hippolyte] Fierens-Gevaert. Histoire de la peinture flamande des origines à la fin du XVe siècle. Vol. 2, Les continuateurs des Van Eyck. Paris, 1928, pp. 70, 72, as by Rogier, dates it about 1460.
Georges Hulin de Loo. "Hans Memling in Rogier van der Weyden's Studio." Burlington Magazine 52 (April 1928), p. 171, mentions it as late work by Rogier.
Malcolm Vaughan. "Rogier van der Weydens in America." International Studio 90 (July 1928), pp. 47–48, ill., as the largest and possibly the latest Rogier in America.
Franz Dülberg. Niederländische Malerei der Spätgotik und Renaissance. Potsdam, 1929, p. 60, as a late work by Rogier, a model for the formality and courtliness of later painters like Memling and Gerard David.
Jules Destrée. Roger de la Pasture—van der Weyden. Paris, 1930, vol. 1, p. 168; vol. 2, pl. 113, attributes it to Rogier.
Paul Rolland. Les primitifs Tournaisiens, peintres & sculpteurs. Brussels, 1932, p. 44, calls the style "rogérien," mentioning it with works by later followers of Rogier, and emphasizing that Ferry de Clugny was not made Bishop of Tournai until 1474 [i.e. 10 years after Rogier's death].
Otto Pächt. "Gestaltungsprinzipien der westlichen Malerei des 15. Jahrhunderts." Kunstwissenschaftliche Forschungen 2 (1933), p. 86, ascribes it to Rogier and dates it about 30 years after the Merode altarpiece.
David M. Robb. "The Iconography of the Annunciation in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries." Art Bulletin 18 (December 1936), pp. 511–12 n. 86, as having "a certain morphological relationship" to Rogier's oeuvre, but hardly painted by him; notes that "the type of the Virgin is derived from Rogier's latest style, the angel is much closer to his earlier manner, archaic in both type and pose"; adds that "the austere sweetness so characteristic of the figures in Roger's last works has been sacrificed to blank symmetry of feature . . . the types, particularly that of the Virgin, are very close to Memling's".
Alan Burroughs. Art Criticism from a Laboratory. Boston, 1938, p. 266, dates our picture in the 1450s, noting that "one assistant of Roger copied the design with small changes for one of the wings of the Columba altar [Alte Pinakothek, Munich]"; notes that "the Virgin's head was revised in old times, which leads one to believe that this picture, like the 'St. Luke' in Boston [Museum of Fine Arts] is the original of similar designs".
Wolfgang Schöne. Dieric Bouts und seine Schule. Berlin, 1938, p. 62, no. 39, attributes it to Rogier although he has not seen the original.
Erich Fidder. Von der Form Roger van der Weydens. [Köslin, Germany], 1938, pp. 38, 45, 95–97.
Erwin Panofsky. Letter to Margaretta Salinger. April 2, 1940, refers to several related Annunciations in which the angel wears a stole and not a "pluviale," illustrated in Ref. Schöne 1938 as by "Albrecht, etc." after a lost composition by Dieric Bouts, including the Ehningen altarpiece in Stuttgart; observes that the dating for the latter, 1473–76, fits in well with Ferry de Clugny's consecration as bishop in 1474; is convinced that our Annunciation is not by Rogier.
Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941, unpaginated, no. 174, ill., as by Rogier, painted about 1460–64.
Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 38–40, ill., consider reasonable Friedländer's [Ref. 1916] attribution of this painting to Rogier's late period.
Ernest Lotthé. La pensée chrétienne dans la peinture flamande et hollandaise. Lille, 1947, vol. 1, pp. 26, 28, pl. 8a; vol. 2, p. 320, no. 13.
Leo van Puyvelde. The Flemish Primitives. Brussels, 1948, p. 26, pl. 37, lists it with Rogier's principal works.
Theodor Musper. Untersuchungen zu Rogier van der Weyden und Jan van Eyck. Stuttgart, 1948, pp. 16–17, 22–23, 55, 59, pl. 73, as by Rogier, probably painted before his Italian trip.
Max J. Friedländer. "Der Meister der Katharinen-Legende und Rogier van der Weijden." Oud-Holland 64 (1949), p. 160, believes the Annunciation by the Master of the Legend of Saint Catherine (Bargello, Florence) is based freely on our picture, which he attributes to Rogier.
Hermann Beenken. Rogier van der Weyden. Munich, 1951, pp. 82–85, pls. 84–85 (overall and detail), ascribes it to Rogier and dates it only a few years before the Columba Altarpiece [see Notes]; finds the bearing and gestures of the figures not naive enough for Memling; believes our picture was the left wing of a large altarpiece, the central panel of which may have been an Adoration of the Kings like the Columba Altarpiece.
M. L. D'Otrange. "Gerard David at the Metropolitan, New York." Connoisseur 128 (January 1952), pp. 210–11, ill., ascribes it to Rogier, but comments on "a certain coldness of approach and a somewhat mannered, wilful grace".
Erwin Panofsky. Early Netherlandish Painting: Its Origins and Character. Cambridge, Mass., 1953, p. 482 n. 1b (to p. 298), believes this picture was not produced until about 1470—quite possibly by Memling—and shows the more static quality characteristic of this phase; observes that the substitution of a stiff chasuble for a more flowing pluvial in the angel's vestments occurs frequently in Boutsian compositions, but not in Rogier's.
Leo van Puyvelde. La peinture flamande au siècle des van Eyck. Paris, 1953, pp. 159, 167, 266, ill. p. 173, calls it a late painting by Rogier, the wing of a work which is now lost.
Paul Pieper. "Zum Werl-Altar des Meisters von Flémalle." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 16 (1954), p. 97, mentions it as a later work by Rogier.
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), ill. p. 11.
Julius S. Held. "Erwin Panofsky, 'Early Netherlandish Painting, Its Origin[s] and Character'." Art Bulletin. Vol. 37, September 1955, p. 227, observes that the "near-affectation" of the Virgin in our Annunciation is foreign to Rogier and comments that Panofsky may well be right in excluding his authorship, even of the design; calls Panofsky's tentative attribution of the picture to Memling unacceptable.
Ruth Massey Tovell. Roger van der Weyden and the Flémalle Enigma. Toronto, 1955, pp 33, 58 n. 13, pl. 23, as by Rogier, painted "perhaps as late as 1443".
Erik Larsen. Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York. Utrecht, 1960, pp. 57–58, 113–14, fig. 9, as by Rogier.
Marguerite Roques. Les apports néerlandais dans la peinture du sud-est de la France, XIVe, XVe, XVIe siècles. Bordeaux, 1963, p. 10 n. 29, mentions it in a discussion of the knotted bed-curtain and ascribes it to Rogier.
Mojmír S. Frinta. The Genius of Robert Campin. The Hague, 1966, p. 16 n. 3.
Albert Châtelet. "Roger van der Weyden et Jean van Eyck." Jaarboek van het Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten te Antwerpen (1966), p. 35, attributes it to Rogier and dates it about 1460.
Stanley Stewart. The Enclosed Garden: The Tradition and the Image in Seventeenth-Century Poetry. Madison, 1966, pp. 38, 169, 216 n. 20, fig. 4, notes that one sees in the enclosed garden "the Tower of David, with its gate now opened"; mistakenly states that the bed is covered with roses.
Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 2, Rogier van der Weyden and the Master of Flémalle. New York, 1967, pp. 21, 69, 100 n. 45, no. 48, pl. 69.
Giovanni Carandente. Collections d'Italie, I: Sicile [Les primitifs flamands, II: Répertoire des peintures flamandes du quinzième siècle, vol. 3]. Vol. 3, Brussels, 1968, p. 12.
Charles D. Cuttler. Northern Painting from Pucelle to Bruegel. New York, 1968, p. 123, calls it "of lesser quality, in which the hand of the shop is suspected".
William S. Heckscher. "The Annunciation of the Merode Altarpiece: An Iconographic Study." Miscellanea Jozef Duverger. Vol. 1, Ghent, 1968, pp. 63–64, ill., notes that the rope-candle held by the Virgin is still lit, a sign that—in comparison with the extinguished candle in the Mérode triptych—the "moment of Mary's 'Ecce ancilla' has not as yet arrived".
Charles Ilsley Minott. "The Theme of the Mérode Altarpiece." Art Bulletin 51 (September 1969), p. 270, figs. 4, 5 (overall and detail), sees the "wax-impregnated ball of flax" with one end aflame held by the Virgin as the closest repetition of Isaiah's image (Isaiah 42:1-4): "the smoking flax shall he not quench"
Micheline Sonkes. Dessins du XVe siècle: groupe van der Weyden. Brussels, 1969, pp. 40, 44–45, describes the drawing in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Weimar (no. B4, pl. VIb), as certainly a copy of the Virgin in our Annunciation, which she attributes to Rogier; observes that the drawing seems to have been executed by the Master of the Legend of Saint Catherine and served as the model for his Annunciation in the Bargello.
Charles Sterling. "Paoul Grymbault, éminent peintre français du XVe siècle." Revue de l'art 8 (1970), pp. 31–32 n. 40, fig. 28 (detail), reproduces a detail of the background garden in our panel beside a detail of a similar garden and gatehouse seen through the window in the right wing of Nicolas Froment's Resurrection of Lazarus (Uffizi, Florence).
Robert A. Koch Bernard Berenson in Letter. February 23, 1971, notes that this Annunciation, "attributed by many to Rogier, must surely be by a close follower (not Memling), its supernal beauty notwithstanding"; finds the Virgin's pose "'mannered' in a way beyond and alien to the style of Rogier".
Christian Alschner inDeutsche Kunst der Dürer-Zeit. Ed. Christian Alschner. Exh. cat., Albertinum. Dresden, 1971, p. 95.
Martin Davies. Rogier van der Weyden: An Essay, with a Critical Catalogue of Paintings Assigned to Him and to Robert Campin. London, 1972, pp. 229–30, observes that it is often ascribed to the studio and considers Panofsky's suggestion that it is by Memling worth further study.
M. B. McNamee. "The Origin of the Vested Angel as a Eucharistic Symbol in Flemish Painting." Art Bulletin 54 (September 1972), p. 276 n. 31, notes that 14th-century Flemish panel painters, following earlier book illuminators, never used "the chasuble, the vestment of the celebrant of the mass, but always some variation of the vestment of subministers of the mass"; identifies the vestments of Angel Gabriel in the present work as the amice, alb and dalmatic.
Josua Bruyn. "The Literature of Art: A New Monograph on Rogier [Review of Martin Davies, Rogier van der Weyden . . ., 1972]." Burlington Magazine 116 (September 1974), p. 541, notes that the attribution of our Annunciation to Rogier is contestable to say the least.
J. de Borchgrave d'Altena. "Roger de la Pasture–Rogier van der Weyden et les sculpteurs." Rogier van der Weyden en zijn Tijd. Brussels, 1974, p. 20, as by Rogier.
J. Bruyn. "Micheline Sonkes, Dessins du XVe siècle, groupe van der Weyden . . . , 1969." Oud-Holland 88, no. 1/2 (1974), p. 166.
V. Denis. La peinture flamande 15e–16e–17e siècles. Brussels, 1976, p. 70, attributes it to Rogier and dates it about 1460.
Christiane Deroubaix. "Un triptyque du Maître de la Légende de Sainte Catherine (Pieter van der Weyden?) reconstitué." Bulletin de l'Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique 17 (1978–79), p. 160, ascribes our Annunciation to Rogier and notes that the Weimar drawing attributed to the Master of the Legend of Saint Catherine was the model for this Master's panel of the Annunciation in the Bargello, Florence.
Rollin van N. Hadley. "What Might Have Been: Pictures Mrs. Gardner Did Not Acquire." Fenway Court (1979), pp. 36, 48–49, no. 54, ill.
Micheline Comblen-Sonkes inRogier van der Weyden / Rogier de le Pasture: Official Painter to the City of Brussels, Portrait Painter of the Burgundian Court. Exh. cat., Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles, Maison du Roi. 1979, p. 77.
Elisa Bermejo. La pintura de los primitivos flamencos en España. Vol. 1, Madrid, 1980, p. 164, ascribes this picture to Rogier, noting that the related Annunciation in the Monastery of Pedralbes, Barcelona, which she gives to the Master of the Saint Catherine Legend, follows it closely.
Catheline Périer-d'Ieteren. "L'Annonciation du Louvre et la Vierge de Houston sont-elles des oeuvres autographes de Roger van der Weyden?" Annales d'histoire de l'art et d'archéologie de l'Université libre de Bruxelles 4 (1982), p. 13.
Marc Dykmans. "Les sceaux et les armoiries du Cardinal Ferry de Clugny, Évêque de Tournai." Revue belge d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'art 52 (1983), pp. 23–24 n. 1, fig. 1 (detail), discusses at length the Clugny family, their arms and those of Ferry de Clugny, as well as the latter's importance as a patron of the arts; notes that Ferry's coat of arms after 1477, the year in which Louis XI of France bestowed on him the bishopric of Poitiers, was quartered with the fleur de lis.
Susan Koslow. "The Curtain-Sack: A Newly Discovered Incarnation Motif in Rogier van der Weyden's 'Columba Annunciation'." Artibus et Historiae no. 13 (1986), p. 32, fig. 18, as by a follower of Rogier van der Weyden; interprets the curtain-sack of the bed as signifying the Incarnation, when the Word became flesh.
Barbara Jakoby. Der Einfluß niederländischer Tafelmalerei des 15. Jahrhunderts auf die Kunst der benachbarten Rheinlande am Beispiel der Verkündigungsdarstellung in Köln, am Niederrhein und in Westfalen (1440–1490). Cologne, 1987, pp. 11–12, 17–18, 98, 108–9, 141, 204, 249 n. 24, p. 252 n. 37, p. 260 n. 61, p. 291 n. 295, fig. 14, suggests that the dalmatic worn by the angel, which Panofsky [Ref. 1953] finds more typical of those worn by Gabriel in Annunciations by Dieric Bouts, was more probably a type invented by Rogier and subsequently taken up by Bouts.
Colin Eisler. "What Takes Place in the Getty Annunciation?" Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 111 (March 1988), pp. 199, 202 n. 20.
J. R. J. van Asperen de Boer, J[eltje]. Dijkstra, and R[oger]. van Schoute, with the assistance of C. M. A. Dalderup, and Jan Piet Filedt Kok. "Underdrawing in Paintings of the Rogier van der Weyden and Master of Flémalle Groups." Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 41 (1990), p. 302.
Jeltje Dijkstra. "Origineel en Kopie: Een Onderzoek naar de Navolging van de Meester van Flémalle en Rogier van der Weyden." PhD diss., Universiteit van Amsterdam, 1990, pp. 53, 58.
Shirley Neilsen Blum. "Hans Memling's 'Annunciation' with Angelic Attendants." Metropolitan Museum Journal 27 (1992), p. 43.
Dirk De Vos. Hans Memling: The Complete Works. Ghent, 1994, p. 304.
Maryan W. Ainsworth. "Hans Memling as a Draughtsman." Hans Memling: Essays. Ed. Dirk De Vos. Ghent, 1994, p. 80, ill. (overall and IRR details), notes in the underdrawing for this painting "the graphic mannerisms of Memling's early drawing style" and suggests that the picture may be "characteristic of Memling's work within Rogier's atelier".
Molly Faries. "The Underdrawing of Memling's Last Judgment Altarpiece in Gdansk." Memling Studies: Proceedings of the International Colloquium (Bruges, 10–12 November 1994). Ed. Hélène Verougstraete, Roger van Schoute, and Maurits Smeyers. Louvain, 1997, p. 249 n. 16.
Mary Sprinson de Jesús inFrom Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. 13, 28, 66, 112–15, 118, no. 10, ill. (color, overall and details), attributes it to the "Workshop of Rogier van der Weyden (possibly Hans Memling)," commenting on the similarity in the style of the underdrawing to that of Memling's earliest works, in particular his 1467 Last Judgment (Muzeum Narodowe, Gdansk); observes, nevertheless, that the dry style of the painting differs from the delicate sensibility that we associate with Memling's work, even in the painted surface of the Gdansk altarpiece—in which the figures are, however, on a smaller scale; notes that such a monumental religious work could have been commissioned by Ferry de Clugny for his Chapelle Dorée, founded at the cathedral of Autun in 1465.
Martha Wolff inThe Robert Lehman Collection. Vol. 2, Fifteenth- to Eighteenth-Century European Paintings. New York, 1998, pp. 81–82, 84 n. 17.
Jean Strouse. Morgan: American Financier. New York, 1999, pp. 567–68.
Dirk De Vos. Rogier van der Weyden: The Complete Works. New York, 1999, pp. 163, 283, ill. (color), calls this picture a free variation by a highly skilled Van der Weyden pupil of the Annunciation in the Columba Altarpiece; observes that further evidence is required to raise Ainsworth's attribution of this painting (1994) to Memling beyond the level of a hypothesis.
Albert Châtelet. Rogier van der Weyden: Problèmes de la vie et de l'oeuvre. Strasbourg, 1999, pp. 212–14, no. AC 124–25, dates it about 1460–65; sees the Virgin's wax-covered rope candle as a picturesque detail and a reference to a new contemporary practice; similarly, sees the choice of a sumptuous alb for Gabriel as more decorative than meaningful; notes that there are signs of the participation of a collaborator who worked on such important areas as the faces and believes that this collaborator must logically be Rogier's son and heir, Pierre van der Weyden; finds Ainsworth's tentative attribution to the young Memling (Ref. 1998) difficult to accept, unless he was working "under the direction of" Rogier and Pierre.
Jean Strouse. "J. Pierpont Morgan, Financier and Collector." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57 (Winter 2000), p. 30–31, ill. (color).
Molly Faries. "Reshaping the Field: The Contribution of Technical Studies." Early Netherlandish Painting at the Crossroads: A Critical Look at Current Methodologies. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth. New York, 2001, p. 82, notes that Memling's "ability to re-create this aspect of shop routine [ie. a functional understanding of underdrawings and as well as a facility in copying them] would seem to be apparent" in the Morgan Annunciation.
Maryan W. Ainsworth. Recent Developments in the Technical Examination of Early Netherlandish Painting: Methodology, Limitations & Perspectives. Ed. Molly Faries and Ron Spronk. Cambridge, Mass., 2003, p. 142, ill.
Till-Holger Borchert. Memling's Portraits. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Ghent, 2005, p. 19, considers this all that remains of a large altarpiece for Ferry de Clugny that remained unfinished at Rogier's death and and was subsequently completed in his workshop; observes that Memling seems to have collaborated on it.
Till-Holger Borchert. "Collecting Early Netherlandish Paintings in Europe and the United States." Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception and Research. Ed. Bernhard Ridderbos et al. English ed. Amsterdam, 2005, p. 212, fig. 116 [Dutch ed., "'Om iets te weten van de oude meesters'. De Vlaamse Primitieven—herontdekking, waardering en onderzoek," Nijmegen, 1995].
Annette LeZotte. The Home Setting in Early Netherlandish Paintings: A Statistical and Iconographical Analysis of Fifteenth- and Early Sixteenth-Century Domestic Imagery. Lewiston, N.Y., 2008, pp. 45–47, 133–37, attributes it to Memling, but includes it in her appendix as by Rogier; sees the domination of the interior by a bed as indicating a "signature space that reflects his [Memling's] artistic lineage in the workshop of Rogier"; views the enclosed garden, on the other hand, marked by crenellated walls and a tower at one corner, and the "manipulated oriental rug design" as "signature objects" for Memling.
Lisa Monnas. Merchants, Princes and Painters: Silk Fabrics in Italian and Northern Paintings, 1300–1550. New Haven, 2008, pp. 143, 355 n. 79.
Stephan Kemperdick inThe Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden. Ed. Stephan Kemperdick and Jochen Sander. Exh. cat., Städel Museum, Frankfurt. Ostfildern, 2009, pp. 100, 172 n. 8, p. 344, fig. 64 (color) [German ed., "Der Meister von Flémalle und Rogier van der Weyden," Ostfildern, 2008], notes that the head of the young girl at the far right of the Presentation in the Temple (right wing of Rogier van der Weyden's Columba Altarpiece, Alte Pinakothek, Munich) reappears in the MMA Annunciation, carried out after Rogier's death; also notes that the window in this panel—"a stone biforium"—and its lighting effects correspond to that in the panel of Emperor Augustus and the Tiburtine Sibyl (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin), which he attributes to the workshop of Rogier van der Weyden; rejects Ainsworth's [see Ref. Sprinson de Jesús 1998] tentative attribution to the young Memling and suggests instead that it may be the work of "a former journeyman of Rogier's who had once participated in the execution of the 'Columba Altarpiece'".
Barbara G. Lane. Hans Memling: Master Painter in Fifteenth-Century Bruges. London, 2009, pp. 33, 35, 40 n. 97, fig. 22, calls it one of two paintings "recently associated with the youthful Memling because of their underdrawing," but states that the attribution "must remain open to question".
Till-Holger Borchert inMemling: Rinascimento fiammingo. Ed. Till-Holger Borchert. Exh. cat., Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome. Milan, 2014, p. 188, under no. 36, fig. 8 (color).
Jennifer Tonkovich. "Discovering the Renaissance: Pierpont Morgan's Shift to Collecting Italian Old Masters." A Market for Merchant Princes: Collecting Italian Renaissance Paintings in America. Ed. Inge Reist. University Park, Pa., 2015, p. 120 n. 19.
C. Jean Campbell inOrnament & Illusion: Carlo Crivelli of Venice. Ed. Stephen J. Campbell. Exh. cat., Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Boston, 2015, p. 53, fig. 19 (color), discusses it in connection with Crivelli's "Madonna della Candeletta" (after 1490; Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan).
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 267, no. 143, ill. pp. 150–51, 267 (color, overall and detail).
Master Paintings & Sculpture: Day Sale. Sotheby's, New York. January 26, 2017, p. 14, under no. 103.