Annunciation Stele With Maitreya

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Analyzing the Different Accessibilities in The Annunciation and the Stele with Maitreya and Attendants Throughout the history of art, religious objects usually have great significance, because they reflect certain cultural and religious backgrounds through their visual effects and functions. In this paper, I will compare and contrast two stunning religious art. The first is The Annunciation (fig. 1), a painting made by an unknown artist in the Netherlands, or possibly France, in the 1380s (Cleveland Museum of Art). The second is the Stele with Maitreya and Attendants (fig. 2), a relief sculpture made by an unknown sculptor in China during the Northern Wei dynasty (Cleveland Museum of Art). The two artworks differ in sizes, materials, and the…show more content…
In the Middle Ages, icon started to appear as an important form in Christian art. Early icons, such as the Icon of Christ (fig. 3) in the Monastery of St. Catherine, often show sacred portraits of Mary, Christ, prophets, or saints. By the eleventh century, the appearance of icons changed from the portrait to the more narrative scene, which expresses poignant emotions (Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, 2001). By doing so, the artworks, such as The Annunciation, put emphasis on the event, allowing worshippers to be engaged in the narrative scene as if actually present at the scene and witness the event. Whereas in ancient China, it was not until the Northern Wei period did the Buddhist stele emerge as an important sculptural medium. The terms for Buddhist steles are “zaoxiangbei”, “beixiang”, and “xiangbei”, in which “xiang” means images and specifically refers to statues and icons in Chinese Buddhism. The Buddhist icons usually depict portraits of Buddha with his eyes gazing at the viewer’s, as is shown in the Stele with Maitreya and Attendants, encouraging the viewer to have direct communication with the sacred figure (Wong 2004, 2). Therefore, The Annunciation shows a biblical event to the viewer, while the Stele with Maitreya and…show more content…
The Annunciation is a small piece with a vertical composition of 31.43 cm × 40.32 cm (Cleveland Museum of Art). Also, it has finely punched ornamentations on the clothes, the haloes, and the background. The details of the painting lead worshippers to look closely at it. It is impossible for a large group of people to view the small and detailed artwork from a distance, indicating that it is more likely for personal use. While the Stele with Maitreya and Attendants is 94.6 cm in height and 54.6 cm in width Cleveland Museum of Art), relatively larger than The Annunciation. Moreover, there are not many finely carved details on the sculpture that the viewer can hardly see from a distance. In conclusion, it is very likely that Stele with Maitreya and Attendants was put in public. The inscription at the back of the Stele with Maitreya and Attendan coincides with my conclusion. It clearly states that the stele was commissioned by a monk for his family and religious teachers in 500, and it was donated to be placed in temples (Cleveland Museum of Art). Therefore, the Stele with Maitreya and Attendants is more accessible than The Annunciation is, because the stele could be seen by the public, whereas The Annunciation was kept in a private place and displayed to only a

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