Photo: The Annunciation, oil on panel painting by Italian artists Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Verrocchio, 1472-1475, 38.6 x 85.4 in (98 × 217 cm), now in Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
The subject of the painting is based on a narrative by Luke according to whom during her betrothal the angel Gabriel sent by God announced to her that she would miraculously conceive through the Holy Spirit and give birth to a son. He told her that the baby was to be named Jesus. The subject has been very popular in Christian Art.
The Annunciation is widely considered the first work of the young Leonardo da Vinci completed in collaboration with his master Andrea del Verrocchio.
Following the established tradition of the times, the painting depicts Gabriel on the left and Virgin Mary on the right with a lectern in between. The architectural setting that opens out onto a landscape does not look to belong to the period when Mary lived. But it was born out of da Vinci’s fantasies of modern architecture, not even of his times, but much ahead.
Some immature visualization can be noticed, for instance, with poplars and pines and the mountains at a distance that seem to be full of greenery which defies logic as the geographical setting of Mary is in the Middle East where such vegetation is unusual.
However, da Vinci’s Annunciation is known for the perfection of linear geometric perspective in art, which later was widely followed by other artists.
In the picture, angel Gabriel is kneeling before Mary while delivering God’s message. He is depicted as draped in rich clothing and holds a Madonna lily. Mary, dressed in equally rich, supple drapery, is shown as was reading, and raises her eyes towards the angel and raises her hand in a gesture of surprise, or rather fear.
When The Annunciation was brought to the Uffizi Gallery from a convent near Florence in 1867, it was credited to Domenico Ghirlandaio, who was also an apprentice of Verrocchio. But later it was established by art experts to be the work of da Vinci in collaboration with Verrocchio.
The painting, as many other paintings depicting Annunciation, shows the angel appearing before Mary at her residence. But some other narratives say that the angel appeared before her when she went to the well to draw water. This well, known as Mary’s Well, is located in an area in Nazareth where there are several other churches and pilgrimage attractions in Nazareth. The well is said to have been a popular watering hole for Arabs for several centuries.