FRUEAUF, Rueland the Elder
(b. 1440/45, Passau, d. 1507, Passau)

The Annunciation

c. 1495
Tempera on pine panel, 70 x 37,5 cm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest

The golden period of Salzburg painting in the last years of the 15th century - surpassing Vienna itself in artistic standards - was dominated by the Elder and the Younger Rueland Frueauf. The start of the elder's career went back to Konrad Laib, but his artistic principles prepared the forms of the Renaissance.

The action takes place in a simple environment; neither the golden surface of the background nor the puritan stone seat or the Virgin's praying-desk play any considerable role. The spectator's eyes are thus attracted by the figures, the angel floating above in the image field, and the Virgin, listening humbly to the tidings of the divine messenger, her face lit up by a glad smile, bending gently towards her visitor. The two figures fill almost the whole space, hardly any help comes from the folds of the garments, here the bodies themselves have come into their own. The interplay of the creases in the folds, though exceedingly important, fail to hold the spectator's eyes, and the decorative effect which lies dormant in the right-and-left curves of the scroll of inscription is not much exploited either.