Panel with an Angel Appearing to Joachim


On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 13

Until 1950 this panel lined the Great Hall of Highcliffe Castle in southern England. Constructed in the 1830s for Lord Stuart de Rothesay, the castle was furnished in part with stonework acquired form the ruined royal abbey at Jumièges in Normandy, where the panels might also have originated. In all likelihood they once decorated the backs of choir stalls ordered in 1501 by the abbot of Jumièges.

Carved on The Cloisters' thirty-five oak panels are scenes from the lives of the Virgin and Christ, each set under an elaborate canopy of single or double arches. The exuberant latticework surrounding the arches provides an almost encyclopedic display of pinnacles, crockets, spirals and other fanciful decorations. The panels shown here open the narrative sequence, with the childless Joachim and Anne standing inside the Temple, saddened by the refusal of their offering. On the next panel an angel, arching his body, appears to Joachim with the news that he and Anne will have a daughter and that she will be named Mary. As in many late medieval works, the figures are foreshortened within their inhabited surroundings, adding depth and drama to the composition.

Panel with an Angel Appearing to Joachim, Oak, French

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