Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci
Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
Location: Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Medium: oil and tempera on panel
Dimensions: 98 x 217 cm
Annunciation by definition means announcement and in this painting, the archangel Gabriel is announcing to Mary that she will bear a special child. He told her that his name would be Jesus meaning “savior”. As the story goes in the book of Luke, the angel Gabriel came to Mary telling her not to be afraid but that she will bear a child who will be called “the son of the highest”. Mary was puzzled because she did not know any man who she could have a child with but Gabriel responded by telling her of the holy ghost. The setting is in a Florentine Villa with mountains and water as the background. Landscapes were painted in various artworks simply as a background for human activity. It could sometimes represent a religious meaning as well. We can see that the angel is holding a lily which symbolizes virginity alongside with the landscape background. The light that Leonardo painted upon Mary portrays her as the main subject giving us that feel of sovereign emotion. Vanishing points are seen from a horizontal viewpoint within the painting as well that lead to the middle. However, seeing it in a vertical angel, the vanishing point is not located at the same spot, in fact, it is two thirds of the way up. Because of this mistake and several others, experts do not give much merit to Leonardo due to lack of perspective. Then again, Leonardo was only twenty years of age when he painted this and it is still known as one of his great works. As far as the wardrobe, Leonardo was influenced by Sandro Botticelli to clothe them in a renaissance style. He liked using dark colors such as red, green, and brown which is what Leonardo used to dress Mary and Angel Gabriel. In fact, Leonardo used much of what he sees as inspiration. For example, the wings on the angel is said to be wings from a bird that he saw soaring through the sky but, of course, had lengthened them.
The Annunciation has been painted as Christian representation done by artists such as Fra Angelico, Simone Martini, Il Tintoretto, so on and so forth. Some say that Leonardo completed the Annunciation painting on his own beginning with the drawing to the final brush strokes. However, there is confusion between others who analyzed his work because Verrocchio might have helped with the painting and asked Leonardo to paint the background and angel. This could be correct since the marble table in front of Mary is inscribed with a quote from the tomb of Piero and Giovanni de Medici. Verrocchio sculpted this tomb and placed it in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence.
Leonardo da Vinci, as an artist, loved painting landscape and everything he painted was for the purpose of his audience to feel some type of emotion. Throughout his studies, he was fascinated by knowing about the human body; the way muscles worked. He was also intrigued by birds and the mechanism of how they flew. As a child, while other kids would play in the fields, he walked around his town analyzing details. Leonardo spent most of his time painting but around the age of 65, he was asked to work as an engineer and therefore, found no more time to paint. He was asked in several requests to paint but he denied them all.
Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Annunciation (Leonardo). 2012.
Artbible. The Annunciation. 2005
Lairweb. The Annunciation.