• The Annunciation Jan Van Eyck 

    The Annunciation is an oil painting by the Early Netherlandish master Jan van Eyck, from around 1434-1436. It is in the National Gallery of Art, in Washington D.C. It was originally on panel but has been transferred to canvas. It is thought that it was the left (inner) wing of a tryptych; there has been no sighting of the other wings since before 1817. It is a highly complex work, whose iconography is still debated by art historians.

    The picture depicts the Annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she will bear the son of God (Luke 1:26-38). The inscription shows his words: "AVE GRÃ. PLENA" or "Hail, full of grace...". She modestly draws back and responds, "ECCE ANCILLA DÑI." or "Behold thehandmaiden of the Lord". Her words are painted upside down for God above to see. The Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit descend to her on seven rays of light from the upper window to the left, with the dove symbolising the Holy Spirit following the same path. "This is the moment God's plan for salvation is set in motion. Through Christ's human incarnation the old era of the Law is transformed into a new era of Grace"


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    What appears to be two sprays of the 'viburnum opulus roseum' shrub - the Guelder rose - is in fact a costly hairpin by the famous designer René Lalique. The hairpin is made of a translucent horn apparently so fragile that the flowers of diamond clusters seem to be bending the leaves. The delicate contrast of the materials gives the jewel a magical quality. Lalique was celebrated for his elegant and extremely expensive jewellery. His designs were made for wealthy clients, like his patron, the Armenian oil magnate Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian. He made a second hairpin in the same form for this client (now at the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon). That pin has the flowers executed in pale blue plique-á-jour enamel decorated with diamonds.

    Year c. 1902-03
    Artist René Lalique
    Technique Horn, gold and diamonds
    Dimensions 15,5 x 7,6 cm

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  • Ambrogio Spinola

    The Spanish army in the Southern Netherlands was under the command of the Italian Ambrogio Spinola. As a general this opponent of Stadholder Maurice was widely respected. Spinola travelled to The Hague for the negotiations that led to the Twelve-Year Truce. It was during this period that the artist Michiel van Miereveld of Delft painted his portrait, probably commissioned by Maurice for his gallery of paintings of famous heroes. Here Spinola, almost an exact contemporary of Maurice, is shown aged 39.

    Title Ambrogio Spinola (1569-1630), Commander of the Spanish Troops in the Southern Netherlands

    Year 1609

    Artist Michiel Jansz. van Miereveld

    Technique Oil on canvas

    Dimensions 119 x 87 cm

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  • Title
    Interior with a Mother delousing her child's hair, known as 'A Mother's duty'
    c. 1658-60
    Pieter de Hooch
    Oil on canvas
    52,5 x 61 cm
    In a room with a boxbed, a mother and child are sitting happily together. The woman is absorbed by a rather prosaic task: delousing her child's hair. The delicate play of the light leads the viewer's attention from room to room. The light in the room is somewhat subdued whereas as the room at the back is sunny. A garden can be seen through the open door. A ray of light shines through the high window, lighting up the two figures. It also catches the edge of the child's chair and the copper bedpan. The sunlight reflects strongly in the door, causing the floor tiles and hair on the dog's chest to glisten.

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