Thursday, December 3, 2009


Title: Annunciation

Artist: Orazio Gentileschi

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 286 x 196 cm

Date: c. 1623

Location: Galleria Sabauda, Turin.

In Luke 1:34-38 it is written that after the angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to a son, she asked "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon 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 barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." Mary answered, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

This painting dates from Gentileschi's time in Genoa and is often considered his masterpiece. The huge red drape hanging behind the Madonna's pure white bed is an overt homage to Caravaggio. Indeed it is to him that the canvas owes its overall sense of vibrant reality, its light and its feeling. Nevertheless, Gentileschi reworked the basic style of Caravaggio's expressive art in an unusually rich fashion. He freely applied color and his impeccable draftsmanship, derived from his Tuscan background, emphasized the refined and noble qualities of the picture. As Mary demurely looks downward, Gabriel, holding the traditionally lily, gestures heavenward where the Holy Spirit descends as a dove.

Orazio Gentileschi (1563 - 1639) was born in Pisa, but in about 1576 he settled in Rome. Coming from a family of artists, whose tradition was continued by his brilliant daughter Artemesia, Orazio Gentileschi trained in one of his uncles' studios in Rome. His own career, however, was slow in starting and he was almost 40 before it really got underway. Then in the first decade of the seventeenth century friendship with Caravaggio brought about a sudden change. After working in a Mannerist style he became one of the closest and most gifted of Caravaggio's followers.

No comments:

Post a Comment