"The Annunciation (Altar of Merode), Robert Kampen
Description of the picture:
The Annunciation (Altar of Merode) – Robert Kampen. Around 1427-1432. Wood, oil. Central panel – 64.1×63.2, side – 64.5×27.3
“Altar of Merode”, so named after the family that had long owned it, it was first attributed to Roger van der Weyden, later to a craftsman from Flemal, who was later identified with Robert Kampen (1378 / 1379-1444).
The work shows the features of the art of the late Middle Ages – colorful colors, a certain conventionality of the image and a partially flattened place, but it already belongs to the Renaissance: the divine characters, although separated from people, are placed next to them, and the Virgin Mary, the archangel Gabriel and Joseph look more closer to reality than donors in the left cusp. But the main thing is that with small sizes the triptych produces a huge memory. It feels the great spirit that distinguished the paintings of Renaissance masters.
The triptych is full of details that are remarkable in themselves: forged candelabra, the archangel’s lace belt, and people outside the open window in the urban landscape, and not only on the street, but also in the shop, where silhouettes can be discerned in black gaps of doors . Countless details are therefore written so painstakingly that most of them are endowed with a special meaning. For example, snow-white lilies in a jug symbolize the purity of the Virgin Mary, an open book on the table – her wisdom, a washstand – the waters of Baptism, a candle – the light that Christ brings to the world. The mousetraps on the table and on the other side of the window, set by Joseph, refer to the words of Blessed Augustine that “the Lord’s cross is a mousetrap for the devil.” If you carefully examine the altar, you can see how a tiny figure of the baby Christ carrying a cross flies to Mary from a round window on the left. This little triptych summarizes the entire New Testament story."