Painting Luke's Gospel

The Annunciation

Chapter 1 of Luke sees the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary, a young bride-to-be, that she’s going to have God’s baby. To portray Gabriel, Iain opted for a bronze statue of an angel in the Glasgow’s Necropolis. The model for Mary is Fereshteh, an asylum seeker from Iran, who was part of a Bible study group run by Glasgow City Mission called “New Glaswegians” for folks they work with who have English as an additional language. Mary and Gabriel represent both the new and the old Glasgow.

Traditionally, in paintings of the Annunciation, Gabriel presents Mary with lilies, which used to be a symbol of purity. In our culture, they are more often a funeral flower, which coincides with the setting of the Necropolis. In the background of the image are Celtic crosses: this painting, which is initially about announcing the birth of Jesus, also foreshadows his death.

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said,

“Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Luke 1: 26-38 (NIVUK)


Gospel Sketchbook download

The Gospel Sketchbook download helps you start exploring the Bible through visual art.

The Annuncation: Gospel Sketchbook Download
Painting Handout

Explore this painting in more detail with our free PDF including colour-in section.

The Annuncation: Painting Handout Download
Gospel Bible Study

This study considers both the Biblical text and the painting on which it is based, encouraging participants to think about how to apply the Biblical text to their context.

The Annuncation: Bible Study Download

The Portrait Gospel

The Gospel of Luke uniquely illustrated by Iain Campbell

The Portrait Gospel is uniquely illustrated by Iain Campbell. By using modern day Glaswegians as his models, Iain’s compelling paintings bring 21st century life to the words of a first century disciple.

Copies of The Portrait Gospel are available to buy in person from St George’s Tron Church, Glasgow.

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