Tapestry with the Annunciation

Date: ca. 1410–20

Culture: South Netherlandish

Medium: Wool warp, wool with a few metallic wefts

Dimensions: Overall: 138 x 117in. (350.5 x 297.2cm)

Classification: Textiles-Tapestries

Credit Line: Gift of Harriet Barnes Pratt, in memory of her husband, Harold Irving Pratt (February 1, 1877–May 21, 1939), 1949

Accession Number: 45.76


Seated in the spacious interior of a small marble mansion, the Virgin Mary looks away from her book on the reading lectern, startled by the sudden entrance of the archangel Gabriel. He holds a scroll with the words "Ave gracia plena" ("Hail [Mary] full of grace"). In the sky, God the Father sends the infant Jesus bearing a cross toward the Virgin, preceded by the dove of the Holy Spirit. Other imagery in the tapestry, such as the enclosed garden, emphasizes her virginity, and the single white lily placed in an elaborate pottery jar symbolizes her purity. Although the tapestry was probably woven in Arras in the South Lowlands—the leading center of tapestry production following the decline of Paris during the Hundred Years' War—it was found in Spain. The fame of weavers from this area extended throughout Europe, and was especially prized by Spaniards, who had established close diplomatic and commercial ties in the region. Since the weaving is of very fine quality and contains some precious metallic yarns, the tapestry was clearly made for a wealthy patron who presumably would have used it for decoration in the home.