Leonardo da Vinci, Annunciation, c. 1472

Leonardo da Vinci, Annunciation, c. 1472

Initial Thoughts

Initially, I thought the mural was a painting of ordinary people within the environmental context that the painter existed or of acquaintances that are associated with him in one way or another. From my perspective, the person that is seated seems to be engrossed in thoughts while the other one with wing-like protrusions seems to be explaining something to the former using gestures. The mood of the painting is generally somber which evokes the deliberation of a sad dialogue. The image is contextualized in an outdoor setting. As a result, I thought that the ‘angel’ found the woman relaxing outside her premises while visiting to deliver the poignant tidings. However, the sophistication of the image lies in the inclusion of an angel in the painting, which indicates that it is no ordinary painting. The artwork could have been inspired by ancient myths or Biblical stories that contain tales of archangels and superhuman characters.

 Interesting Aspect of the Picture

One interesting aspect of the picture is symbolism that artists to make the picture significant to the audience. For example, Angel Gabriel is holding a lily on his left hand. A lily is an attractive, soft, and beautiful flower that was used as a symbol of purity and cleanliness in the ancient world. In this painting, the lily is a representation of the purity of Mary as she was the only woman in the world who got pregnant while still a virgin. The lily also represents the purity of Florence as it is one of the cleanest and most elegant cities in Italy since time immemorial.  Other symbols of purity include Mary’s largely blue dress. Angel Gabriel is kneeling in an enclosed garden far away from Mary to signify that she was pure to the extent that even the angel of God was not allowed to touch or come close to her. Apart from purity, the marble desk in the middle of Angel Gabriel and Mary is painted similar to the resting place of Giovanni de’ Medici as carved. This painting signifies the respect that Giovanni de’ Medici, one of the pioneer artists in Italy, is given.

Historical Context

This artwork was painted in Uffizi, Italy, where it is still preserved until date. The painting demonstrates archangel Gabriel speaking with Mary. According to Biblical account, the angel is consummating the mission that he was commissioned to do by God when He sent him to inform Mary that she will conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. The consensus is that the masterpiece was commissioned by Andrea e Verrocchio and completed by his student, Leonardo da Vinci. Andrea de Verrocchio left behind a note appealing to his pupil to finish the masterpiece that he started explaining that it was Biblically inspired by the Gospel of Saint Luke 1:26-38. Da Vinci crafted the background and painted the wings of the angel. He also did the final finishing of the painting to make the image more distinct from the background.  This painting is remembered as one of Leonardo’s inaugural artworks.

Insight related to Artists’ Biography

Leonardo Da Vinci was an engineer, musician, writer, painter, mathematician, astronomer, architect, and painter. Da Vinci was one of the most renowned multi-talented people in the history of the world. The artist’s extensive knowledge in science and nature is heavily reflected in the artwork (Cole 456). For example, Da Vinci makes the background of the picture to fall away from the mist thus giving an unearthly quality. This background strengthens the ethereal nature of the picture and places it outside the realms of reality, possibly placing amongst the legends and myths rather than history. The artist also includes the Florentine Palace Garden to make the picture familiar to the local audience. Placing the mountains and broad countryside on the background, the picture depicts the wide nature of Virgin Mary’s world. Before drawing the art, Da Vinci (15) produced several sketches from which he practiced to draw specific human features such as bone structure, facial expressions, hand gestures, and other anatomical features.

Stylistic Characteristic of the Renaissance Period

The picture portrayed the recognizable scene when Angel Gabriel visited Mary to announce the imminent birth of Jesus Christ.   It is typical of numerous portals of the similar subject matter during the Renaissance period, integrating features that would directly familiar to the audience of the period (Adams 31). For example, Annunciation images of the Renaissance period were exceptionally uniform. In the picture, Mary is placed in the right position befitting her status as the Blessed Virgin, while Angel Gabriel is painted on the left side. Besides, Angel Gabriel is facing Mary and she, in turn, is noted looking more to the front. The Angel is subservient submissive to the Virgin Mary, bowing as he delivers the news the Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. Gabriel is holding lilies in his hand signifying the purity of the Virgin Mary and Florence where the image was painted.

Relevance of the Work to Today’s Audience

The work is relevant to today’s evidence because it showcases the theme of Catholicism and the role of Mary, and gender politics. In Catholicism, Mary is a respected woman and is placed above the earthly position of a saint as she was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus Christ. Hence, the Catholic church likens her to Christ and plays the role of interceder between God the father and human beings.  It is only the Trinity (God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son,  that are place above Mary. This Catholic belief is apparent in Da Vinci’s drawing. For instance, the light in the painting emanates around Mary, and height, width, and depth end in her. That, all the aspects of the image are elevated to suit her.  Thus, the work glorifies Mary because God chose and favored her to become the mother of Jesus Christ.

How It has Altered My Thoughts

From the picture, it is clear that artists during the Renaissance period were not as primitive as I thought. For example, Annunciation images of the Renaissance period were exceptionally uniform. In the picture, Mary is placed in a right position befitting her status as the Blessed Virgin, while Angel Gabriel is painted on the left side. Besides, the artist did not make paintings for the sake of it, and incorporated symbolism alongside other stylistic characteristics. Initially, I thought the two people of the art were ordinary people, and that artist had incorporated their imaginations to make the picture appear attractive. However, Renaissance artists were creative and imaginative and often made their ar to reflect historical, including biblical events(Carman 56). This aspect made them stand out among the artist who came before and after them.






Works Cited

Adams, Laurie Schneider. Italian Renaissance Art. Routledge, 2018.

Cole, B. (2018). The Renaissance Artist at Work: From Pisano to Titian. Routledge.

Carman, Charles H. Leon Battista Alberti, and Nicholas Cusanus: towards an epistemology of

            vision for Italian Renaissance art and culture. Routledge, 2016.

Da Vinci, Leonardo. The notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. Vol. 1. Courier Corporation, 2012.