Annunciation (1439-1443) by Fra Angelico

Annunciation - Fra Angelico - c.1435

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Artwork Information

ArtistFra Angelico
Dimensions195 x 158 cm
Art MovementEarly Renaissance
Current LocationSanta Maria delle Grazie, San Giovanni Valdarno, Italy

About Annunciation

The artwork “Annunciation” by Fra Angelico, dating to circa 1435, is a fresco exemplifying the Early Renaissance art movement. The piece measures 195 by 158 cm and is a religious painting currently housed at Santa Maria delle Grazie in San Giovanni Valdarno, Italy. This artwork is renowned for its delicate representation of a pivotal biblical event and its embodiment of the spiritual and artistic ideals of its time.

In “Annunciation,” Fra Angelico depicts the moment the Archangel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary that she will conceive and become the mother of Jesus Christ. The scene is set within a harmoniously constructed architectural space, with Mary and Gabriel occupying separate but visually connected arches. The use of linear perspective guides the viewer’s eye into the depth of the scene, while the carefully placed architectural elements and the garden in the background establish a serene environment for this divine moment.

Mary is shown seated, modestly clothed in a rich blue mantle, looking downward with a contemplative expression, embodying humility and grace. On her side, an open book rests on a stand, symbolizing her devotion and piety. In contrast, Gabriel, depicted with elegant, detailed wings, is in a dynamic pose, kneeling with one foot forward, gesturing towards Mary as he delivers his message. Above them, a depiction of the Holy Spirit as a dove descends to Mary, framed by a circular mandorla that emphasizes the sacredness of the interaction.

Beneath the main tableau, a predella – a series of smaller narrative scenes – runs along the lower edge of the fresco. These smaller paintings within the artwork provide additional context to the religious narrative, likely illustrating episodes from the life of the Virgin or related theological themes, following the conventions of religious art of the period.

Fra Angelico’s use of color, delicate gold leaf accents, and his attention to detail in both the figures and the backgrounds exemplify the Early Renaissance drive to harmonize spiritual content with naturalistic representation. “Annunciation” is not merely a religious icon but a skillful integration of theological significance with artistic innovation, marking a moment of transition in the history of Western art.

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