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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. 




  1. Murray, Peter, and Linda Murray. The Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture. Oxford: New York, 1998.
  2. Brown, David Alan. Leonardo Da Vinci: Origins of a Genius. New Haven (Conn.): Yale University Press, 1999.
  3. Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Annunciation (Leonardo)

Annunciation is a painting attributed to the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, dating from circa 1472–1475. It is housed in the Uffizi gallery of Florence, Italy. Leonardo might have finished the Annunciation in his early twenties.

The subject matter is drawn from Luke 1.26-39 and depicts the angel Gabriel, sent by God to announce to a virgin, Mary, that she would miraculously conceive and give birth to a son, to be named Jesus, and to be called "the Son of God" whose reign would never end. The subject was very popular for artworks and had been depicted many times in the art of Florence, including several examples by the Early Renaissance painter Fra Angelico. The details of its commission and its early history remain obscure.

In 1867, following Gustav Waagen methods, Baron Liphart identified this Annunciation, newly arrived in the Uffizi Gallery from the church of San Bartolomeo a Monte Oliveto in Florence, as by the young Leonardo, still working in the studio of his master, Andrea del Verrocchio. Before Liphart the painting had been attributed to Domenico Ghirlandaio.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Annunciation (Leonardo).