The format of Hughes''Annunciation,' like that of its companion 'The Nativity,' is based on early Renaissance models, with the Angel Gabriel to the left of the composition and the Virgin Mary, separated from him by a wooden pillar, on the right-hand side. The 'gothic' shape of the frame and the Virgin's pseudo-medieval dress make even more specific allusion to the art of the middle ages. Lilies, a symbol of the Virgin's purity, are present in abundance; the trailing vine is a symbol of the Christian faith; and the distaff and wool which the Virgin holds in her hand refers to the legend of her upbringing in the Temple at Jerusalem, where she supposedly spun and weaved the priest's vestments.

In Christianity, the Annunciation is the revelation to Mary, mother of Jesus, by the Archangel Gabriel, that she would conceive a child to be born the Son of God. The picture shows Mary being visited by the Archangel Gabriel. The lilies are a symbol of purity and Mary's virginity, the iris' were considered a sign of warning or danger. The Victorian audience looking at this picture would have understood the symbolism of these images.

  • Purchased from James Leathart in 1891.
  • © Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery


Association Artist Organisation
Artist Arthur Hughes -


Type Position(s) Method Date(s) Notes
Arthur Hughes
Signature bottom right Painted - Red oil paint.
The Annunciation / And in the sixth month the Angel / Gabriel was sent from God to the city / of Galilee, named Nazareth. / To a virgin espoused to a man whose name / was Joseph, of the house of David; and / the Vigin's name was Mary. Luke 1-26.27 / Arthur [Hug]hes / Buckland Terrace
Label - - - On detached label in the gallery files (previously on the stretcher) and in the artist's hand.


Catalogue No. Venue Date(s)
Special Loan Collection of Modern Pictures
168 City of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery 1891-10-02 - 1892-01
Special Loan Exhibition of Pictures of the British School
1, Gallery D Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery 1896-11 - 1896-11
Loan Exhibition of Works by Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelites
257 City of Manchester Art Gallery 1911-09-14 - 1911-11-30
Loan Collection of Works by English Pre-Raphaelite Painters lent by the Art Committee of the Birmingham Corporation
19 National Gallery of British Art, London (now Tate Britain, London) 1911-12 - 1912-03
Inaugural Exhibition
117 Leamington Art Gallery 1928 - 1929
Exposition Rétrospective de Peinture Anglaise (XVIIe et XVIXe)
89 Musée Moderne, Brussels 1929-10-12 - 1929-12-01
Christian Arts Festival
no cat. Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield 1955-10 - 1955-11
Paintings and Drawings from the Leathart Collection
43 Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne 1968-10-07 - 1968-11-18
Death, Heaven and the Victorians
16 Brighton Museum and Art Gallery 1970-05-06 - 1970-08-03
Arthur Hughes: The Pre-Raphaelite Painter
- National Museum of Wales, Cardiff 1971-10-05 - 1971-10-24
- Leighton House, London 1971-12-03 - 1971-12-23
Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
23 Hong Kong Museum of Art 1984-10-20 - 1984-12-02
Visions of Love and Life: Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Collection, England
46 Seattle Art Museum, Seattle 1995-03-09 - 1995-05-07
46 Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio 1995-05-27 - 1995-07-16
46 Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington 1995-08-11 - 1995-10-15
46 Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas 1995-11-04 - 1996-01-02
46 High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia 1996-01-23 - 1996-04-10
46 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery 1996-05-25 - 1996-09-29
The Pre-Raphaelites
38 Nationalmuseum, Stockholm 2009-02-26 - 2009-05-24


Author(s) Date(s) Publisher Pages
15 March 1862 - p. 368
13 September 1873 - p. 344
20 September 1873 - p. 374
30 September 1882 - p. 438
10 October 1891 - p. 491
2 January 1892 - p. 30
Magazine of Art
1892 - p. 214; repr. 215
Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite Movement
Esther Wood 1894 Sampson Low Marston, London p. 205
7 March 1896 - p. 319
Loan Collection of Works by English Pre-Raphaelite Painters lent by the Art Committee of the Birmingham Corporation
1911 National Gallery of British Art p. 7
'Mr A Hughes: Last of the Pre-Raphaelites'-obituary
Anonymous 23 December 1915 The Times p. 6
'April Love' -A Note and 'Monthly Chronicle'
Robert Ross February 1916 Burlington Magazine p. 204
'The Last of the Pre-Raphaelites: Reflections on a Memorial Exhibition of Paintings by the late Arthur Hughes'
Anonymous November 1916 Vogue p. 55
The Dictionary of National Biography
Malcolm Bell 1927 Oxford University Press, Oxford pp. 275-276
Pre-Raphaelite Painters
John Gere, Robin Ironside 1948 Phaidon, London p. 43
The Pre-Raphaelites
Timothy Hilton 1970 Thames and Hudson, London p. 115; repr. pl. 175
Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
Mr Richard Lockett 1984 Urban Council, Hong Kong p. 68; repr. p. 69
Pre-Raphaelitism and Medievalism in the Arts
Liana Cheney 1992 E. Mellen Press, Lewiston, New York, USA and Lampeter, UK 257; repr. fig. 3
Visions of Love and Life: Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Collection, England
Stephen Wildman 1995 Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia p. 171; repr. p. 172
Arthur Hughes: His Life and Works
Leonard Roberts 1997 Antique Collectors' Club Cat. 36, p. 142; repr. pl. 22
Flora Symbolica: Flowers in Pre-Raphaelite Art
Debra Mancoff 2003 Prestel, London and Munich p. 34; repr. p. 35
The Pre-Raphaelites
2009 Nationalmuseum, Stockholm cat.38, p.168


Thomas Edward Plint; Plint sale, Christie's, 8 March 1862 (254), bought-in at 25 gns. by Smith (Plint's executors); bought from them c. 1862 by James Leathart; bought from him by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 1891.

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