The lily is a paradox– death and life. It was the harbinger in paintings of the Annunciation. The Pre-raphaelites loved this subject matter, but my favourite is Rossetti’s take on this news-flash moment. There is a reference to Fra Angelico’s beautiful treatment of the subject matter and Rossetti even seems to be riffing off the stark white cells of the Monastery of San Marco in Florence where much of Fra Angelico’s frescos can be seen.
Rosetti’s Mary is very much human, full of wonder and terror. The angel’s face is merely suggested in a haze of fleshy shadow as if to save those looking from the divine information that might just do us in.
But Mary survives this message– backed into a corner of her tiny cell, the traditional blue of her dress is only represented by a makeshift screen– something you’d see in a hospital. And the lily takes center stage with its innocence and knowing, its face of life and death.
Happy Easter, friends. I will be trading at Eastercon, the British Science Fiction Association Convention in London over the weekend. Look for me in the dealer’s room if you will be there. I will be putting my Etsy shop in vacation mode for a short time while I am away.