Story: Painting

Colin McCahon, 'The Angel of the Annunciation' (1st of 4)

Colin McCahon, 'The Angel of the Annunciation'

In this 1947 oil painting, Colin McCahon sets the biblical story of the Annunciation. This was the moment when the angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus – not in Nazareth, but in Nelson. The angel floats in the foreground, while the Nelson golf club and distinctive tawny hills provide the background. From early in his career McCahon imbued the New Zealand hills with religious feelings, and he found inspiration in the works of Italian Renaissance painters who located biblical events in a local setting. The black writing of the painting's title at bottom left anticipates McCahon's use of words in later paintings.

Using this item

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: 1980-0008-3
Oil on cardboard by Colin McCahon, 1947

Permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

Courtesy of the Colin McCahon Research and Publication Trust

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How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'Painting - Nationalism and landscape painting, 1935 to 1965', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 9 August 2022)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 22 Oct 2014