The prototype is old, very old. It is Russian in origin, dated from the early 12th century. It was made to be part of the altarpiece (iconostasis) in the Church of the Annunciation in Gorodisce, which was built in 1103. The name of the artist is unknown; it is unsigned, as is true of most icons. They are made for the glory of God and the beautification of His Holy Church, not for the fame of an artist.
I saw the original icon, real and in person, in Russia, at the Tretyakov Museum in Moscow. It is huge, with almost lifesize figures. It is in poor shape, warped with much cracking and chipping, but the magnificence and monumentality still shine through. I love this icon. Hence, I decided to make a translation of it for myself–to spend a year or so meditating on the Annunciation, on the Incarnation of the Lord, and on the life and decision of Mary–called Theotokos, the God Bearer.
An icon is for all time and all places, and this icon appears outside of time to me. There is a wonderful tension between the potential of movement, of happenings on earth, and quiet stillness of the spiritual world. There is no background to distract the eye. I love the flow of the forms, the balance and interplay of the figures, the repeating of the blessing hand 3 times in the composition. There is gentleness shown here. Purpose. Submission. Humility. Beauty. Glory. I hope I can do justice to this image, to translate its qualities faithfully, to make it shine as beautifully for others as it does for me. What matters most is the profound journey of contemplation and prayer that each icon embodies.