Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Upside-Down Latin

It's the season of Advent for many folks I suppose a 15th-century Annunciation image is appropriate. Jan van Eyck adapts Luke 1:26-38 (Archangel Gabriel tells the Virgin Mary she'll bear the Son of God). An inscription (left) bears Gabriel's words: AVE GRA[TIA] PLENA = "Hail, full of grace." Mary responds (right): ECCE ANCILLA D[OMI]NI = "Behold the handmaiden of the Lord."

Mary's words are upside-down. Is this so God can "see" (hear) her words?

A full picture of the image is below. National Gallery of Art, November 2009.

P.S. See this post for a different example of Latin speech in medieval art.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the explanation I really wanted to know.