Sunday, December 10, 2017

Second Sunday of Advent

Title: Annunciation to the Shepherds
Artist: Taddeo Gaddi
Medium: Fresco
Size: tbd.
Date: c. 1330
Location: Cappella Baroncelli, Santa Croce, Florence

Luke 2:8-12: And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear. And the angel said to them: “Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people: For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.”

The angel announces that the new born child is the Saviour, that He has come to save us from our sins, that the salvation Christ brings is offered “to all the people”. In the words of St. Paul’s in his letter to the Colossians (3:11): “Where there is neither Gentile nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free. But Christ is all, and in all.”

This fresco is located on the south wall among frescoes devoted to the Life of the Virgin in the Baroncelli Chapel. This nocturnal scene presented in a unique way: the golden yellow glow of the cloud that surrounds the hovering angel bathes the shepherds and their resting place in a bright light that even reaches the trees that crown the mountain peak, while the remainder of the pictorial space is filled with semidarkness. Although the light source is a supernatural one, it produces a natural effect.

Taddeo Gaddi (c. 1300 - c. 1366), a Florentine painter, was a pupil of Giotto's and one of his most inventive followers. He worked alongside the master for twenty-four years, and in 1347 he headed a list of the best living painters compiled for the purpose of choosing a master to paint a new high altarpiece for Pistoia Cathedral. Today, he is best known for the works painted for Santa Croce, Florence: notably the frescoes devoted to the Life of the Virgin in the Baroncelli Chapel (finished 1338).

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