Donatello’s Tabernacle of the Annunciation is a remarkable sculpture created between 1428 and 1433. The artwork, sculpted from limestone with residual gilding and polychromy, can be found against the southern wall of the S. Croce church in Florence. The sculpture is an architectural feature of a family chapel and replaces the original altar after the destruction of the original Chapel by Vasari. The Tabernacle depicts the Annunciation and features three pairs of putti, along with the figures of Mary and Gabriel. Positioned in the sixth bay of the church’s right aisle, the sculpture is considered one of Donatello’s masterpieces.
The Tabernacle of the Annunciation is an example of Donatello’s new artistic tendencies that emerged after his time in Rome. Made of pietra serena stone, the sculpture includes various materials such as gold highlights, terracotta and stucco. The artwork is designed to represent the angels’ announcement to Mary of Jesus’ coming birth, with the putti forming a symbolic representation of the Holy Trinity. The sculpture’s three-dimensionality creates a sense of realism, as seen in the soft folds of Mary’s clothes and her contemplative gesture.
In summary, Donatello’s Tabernacle of the Annunciation is a breathtaking artwork that uses various materials and techniques to create a beautiful and accurate representation of the Annunciation story. The sculpture’s position and setting within the church add to its magnificence and religious significance. Donatello’s expertise in sculpting is evident in the intricacy and realism of the work, which has become a treasured masterpiece in the world of art.