Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Title: Annunciation

Artist: Andrea del Sarto

Medium: Oil on wood

Size: 96 x 189 cm

Date: 1528

Location: Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence.

In the New Testament, the Annunciation is narrated in the Gospel of Luke 1:26-38. The text reads “the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’" And so began the conversation where Mary is told of her conception of Christ, but when she asks the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?” she is told “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

Del Sarto's painting is reported to have originally been in the form of a lunette, but was transformed to a rectangle at an unknown period. Regardless, in a supremely poetic range of changing colors, from yellow to pink to lilac to purple, The Annunciation expresses Andrea del Sarto's new taste. In this mature painting he no longer favors the intense and highly charged palette of the preceding years, but chooses delicate harmonies, without dissonances, and refined accords which give the composition a new balance, more quiet and refined than before. Gabriel is shown holding the traditional lily stalk signifying Mary's religious mind, the leaves her humility, the white petals her virginity and it's scent her divinity.

Andrea del Sarto (1486 – 1531) was an Italian painter from Florence, whose career flourished during the High Renaissance and early-Mannerism. Though highly regarded by his contemporaries as an artist "senza errori" (i.e., faultless), he is overshadowed now by equally talented contemporaries like Raphael. He was the best painter (as opposed to draughtsman) in 16th-century Florence, and had more feeling for tone and colors than any of his contemporaries south of Venice.

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