This painting is one of the few original Jan van Eyck paintings to be found in North America, as part of the impressive collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. The vast majority remains in the artist's home continent, particularly in Northern European countries such as the UK, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
This long, narrow painting is 37cm wide by 93cm tall. In fact, many of Jan van Eyck's individual paintings were relatively small - it was extraordinary just how much detail he could put into a small panel painting such as this. His larger projects such as the Ghent Altarpiece were essentially just a series of similarly small paintings joined together in a larger piece.
The painting is an unusual dimension for the work of Jan van Eyck, being particularly narrow. This would support the theory that this was designed as a single wing for a triptych, where the central panel would have been twice the width of this supporting painting. There has been no confirmation to this theory, however, and that is unlikely to ever change due to the artist's career finishing some six centuries ago.
The particular version of The Annunciation displays Van Eyck's qualities in architectural depiction, with a stunning backdrop of a church or cathedral complete with stained-glass windows. In the foreground there is an elaborate carpet and a small sitting stool.
The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, USA hosts an exceptional collection of art from a whole range of different art movements and periods. Alongside this painting by Jan van Eyck, you will also find work by the likes of Giorgione, Giovanni Bellini, Nicolas Poussin, Johannes Vermeer and Eugène Delacroix.