More about Annunciation
The Annunciation announces more than the immaculate conception of Jesus, it’s a work that heralds da Vinci’s artistic coming-of-age.
Painted by Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Verrocchio at Verrocchio’s workshop (and no, he didn’t make puppets there, but, perhaps suspiciously, he was the premier sculptor of his day). The painting depicts the angel Gabriel informing the virgin Mary she will carry the lord’s son. For Renaissance painters, this was a typical scene, almost something you could not escape doing at least once in your career. It’s kinda like drawing a cat with oversized whiskers in preschool.
There’s no cat in this painting, however, and if there was, it would probably chase after Gabriel whose spread wings are more bird-like than angelic. Still, there are a lot of things worth noting. Gabriel holds a Madonna lily, a flower symbolic of Mary’s purity. His hair also falls off his head like a tangled waterfall in the best way possible. Mary leafs through a large tome, likely the bible. Funnily enough, she might be reading the passage from Isaiah which says a virgin will bear a son. Talk about a book hitting home.
The composition of the piece is also quite telling. In eastern Orthodox depictions, Gabriel is placed on the right, whereas in the West he would be on the left, as da Vinci and Verrocchio prove here. It also tells of da Vinci’s immaturity as an artist, as he was only in his early twenties at the production of this painting. If you compare the various angles of the walls, such as the one behind Mary’s head, to the railing behind Gabriel, the space begins to collapse. And just why is the bed inside the room behind Mary so high off the ground? She would need stilts to get into that thing.
Fortunately for da Vinci, he had a lot of time to perfect his craft. Verrocchio, on the other hand, was already getting on in his years. He was da Vinci's master after all. If anything, this painting the foreshadowing of Leonardo da Vinci growing into his craft.
- Murray, Peter, and Linda Murray. The Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture. Oxford: New York, 1998.
- Brown, David Alan. Leonardo Da Vinci: Origins of a Genius. New Haven (Conn.): Yale University Press, 1999.
- Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)
Here is what Wikipedia says about Annunciation (Leonardo)
Annunciation is a painting on wood that is attributed to the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci and dated to circa 1472–1475. It is housed in the Uffizi gallery of Florence, Italy. Leonardo might have finished the Annunciation in his early twenties, while remaining in the studio of Andrea del Verrocchio, to whom he had been an apprentice as a teenager.
The subject matter of the work is drawn from Luke 1.26–39. It depicts the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she would conceive miraculously and give birth to a son to be named Jesus and called "the Son of God", whose reign would never end. The subject of the annunciation was very popular for contemporaneous artworks painted in Christian countries such as Italy and had been depicted many times in Florentine art, including several examples by the Early Renaissance painter Fra Angelico. Details of the commission for the painting and its early history remain obscure.
The marble table in front of Mary probably is derived from the tomb of Piero and Giovanni de' Medici in the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence, which Verrocchio had sculpted during this same period. The angel holds a Madonna lily, a symbol of Mary's virginity as well as that of the city of Florence.
It is presumed that, being a keen observer of nature, Leonardo painted the wings of the angel to resemble those of a bird in flight, but later, the wings were lengthened dramatically by another artist.
Although this is the earliest known commissioned painting by Leonardo, it has been pointed out that the painting already bears characteristics that are described as demonstrating his signature work, the innovations he introduced in his paintings: sfumato and atmospheric perspective.
Check out the full Wikipedia article about Annunciation (Leonardo)