This painting brings together many of the concerns
that recur throughout Howard's work. The meeting
of the two women, one young and one older, both pregnant, is at once an
intensely spiritual moment and a deeply human one.
Although monumental in scale, this is an intimate
encounter. The intimacy of their meeting is expressed through
hierarchical gesture. As the two women embrace, Elizabeth rests her
hand on Mary’s side to feel the movement of the child.
The predella at the base of the painting is
divided into three panels, the two outer images show
Mary and the Archangel Gabriel at the moment of The Annunciation,
in the centre is the newly-born child.