Ecce Ancilla Domini! (The Annunciation) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti


An angel is announcing to Mary that she will give birth to the Christ child. She appears to be recoiling as if disturbed from sleep. This is a radical reinterpretation of the subject. Traditionally the Virgin was depicted in studious contemplation. Dante Gabriel Rossetti rejected the tradition of representing the Virgin passively receiving the news. Instead he wanted the picture to have a supernatural realism. White is the dominant colour here, symbolising the idea of feminine purity. This is reinforced by the lily embroidery – the same one the Virgin is shown working on in Rossetti’s painting of The Girlhood of Mary Virgin.

© Tate, 2014

Full title:
Ecce Ancilla Domini! (The Annunciation)
Artwork / Image
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
© Tate
Usage terms

© Tate

Held by

Related articles

Christina Rossetti: gender and power

Article by:
Simon Avery
Gender and sexuality, Victorian poetry

The Victorian period witnessed massive changes in thinking about women’s roles in society. Dr Simon Avery asks how Christina Rossetti's poetry sits within this context, looking at her representations of oppression, female identity, marriage and the play of power between men and women.

Christina Rossetti: religious poetry

Article by:
Simon Avery
Victorian poetry

With close readings of 'Up-Hill' and 'A Birthday', Dr Simon Avery explores the tensions and questions that characterise the quest for spiritual fulfilment found in Christina Rossetti's religious poetry.

The Pre-Raphaelites

Article by:
Dinah Roe
Fin de siècle

Dr Dinah Roe introduces the unique band of artists, poets and designers known as the Pre-Raphaelites, charting their formation and evolution from the 1850s to the late 19th century.

Related collection items