Eugène Emmanuel Amaury Pineu Duval, who painted under the name of Amaury-Duval from 1833, was one of Ingres' most famous pupils and closest followers. Like his master, Amaury-Duval was a prolific portraitist, displaying great talent in this genre, as evidenced by the enigmatic, seductive portrait Madame de Loynes also in the Musée d'Orsay.
But his activity was by no means reduced to producing likenesses of his most illustrious contemporaries, and he is known to have painted several compositions for chapels or churches. Such was probably the destination of this Hail Mary, also called The Annunciation, one of Amaury-Duval's few large easel paintings on a religious subject, which was commissioned by the State in 1856 and delivered in 1861.
Associating colour with the line advocated by Ingres, Amaury-Duval produced a delicately tinted painting. The simple composition structured by the columns of a pergola in the background, immediately delighted the chroniclers, who saw in it a combination of the influence of Raphael and that of the contemporary German painters known as the Nazarenes.
Attracted by the monumental simplification of the figures and the deliberate modernisation of the décor, the curator of the Musée du Luxembourg claimed Hail Mary as soon it was delivered so that the artist would be worthily represented in the national collections.