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The Annunciation, about 1746

Carle Vanloo
The Annunciation, about 1746
French, 1705–1765
oil on canvas
32.5 x 16 inches (82.55 x 40.64 cm)
Acquired with funds provided by Mr. Joseph Mendelson in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert A. Mendelson

Carle Vanloo, the most celebrated member of a distinguished family of artists, was enormously successful during his lifetime. His works, though based on classicism and the grand manner, introduced a new Rococo palette of colors and sense of grace. Among his most famous paintings are many large-scale decorative projects.

During the mid-eighteenth century, at the height of his career, Vanloo made a series of paintings of the life of the Virgin for SaintSulpice in Paris. The Snite’s canvas is a preparatory sketch for his large Annunciation, but it deviates in several ways from the finished composition. The angel, who announces to the Virgin that she is with child, kneels on a cloud holding his right hand to his chest in a less formal gesture than in the final painting. The colors have a light, pearly tone, and the freely flowing draperies are more casually patterned. A chair in the lower-left corner closes off the composition, creating a more compact space. These factors unify the design and connect the angel more closely with the Virgin. Overall, the working sketch shows a liveliness, grace, and intimacy that are missing from the more rigid, formal, and monumental finished work.