The Annunciation

Leonardo da Vinci • Painting, 1475, 98×217 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Religious scene
Style of art: Renaissance
Technique: Oil
Materials: Wood
Date of creation: 1475
Size: 98×217 cm
Artwork in collection: - Vlad Maslov
Artwork in selections: 80 selections

Description of the artwork «The Annunciation»

Leonardo da Vinci for centuries with regularity, become the subject of disputes of scientists from different fields, art critics and art historians. In the case of pictorial works of the artist often was called into question their authorship: since Leonardo's own works were not signed, it is possible to focus only on his personal diaries with sketches and testimonies of contemporaries. About da Vinci's paintings "The Annunciation" researchers have not come to a consensus: some argue that job was written by Leonardo from first to last stroke, while others believe that the artist was a co-author. After numerous studies was discovered the details that can confirm both the first and second version.

Who could be a co-author of the "Annunciation"?

Work was only discovered in 1867 in the monastery of San Bartolomeo a Monteoliveto and transferred to the Uffizi Gallery. At that time, its author was considered Domenico Ghirlandaiobut two years later, the painting was attributed to Leonardo by the study of the diaries of the artist and the comparison of parts of the "Annunciation" with the sketches.

In favor of the version that the painting was painted by da Vinci alone, according to carefully spelled out, shrouded in the haze the scenery in the background and traditional artist's anatomical accuracy. For example, the wings of Gabriel Leonardo copied from a real bird's wings, he wrote in one of his diaries. However, a certain unidentified "Retoucher", apparently, found these wings is not enough impressive for the messenger of God and quite rude lengthened them. You should pay attention to the faces of the characters in the movie. The face of the Archangel Gabriel like the angel, which da Vinci wrote in the corner "Baptism Of Christ"- the work of his teacher Verokkoand the virgin Mary – the famous "The Madonna of the carnation"written by da Vinci several years later.

However, some researchers are of the opinion that "Annunciation" was painted by Leonardo together with his teacher. They believe that, as in the case of "Baptism of Christ", a large part of the painting was created by Andrea del Verokko, and the young disciple of the master asked to write the landscape in the background and the figure of the Archangel. One of the radiographic studies showed that part of the work allegedly performed Verokko, was written rather large, heavy brushstrokes, and the paint used contained lead. As for the angel and the landscape, the layers of paint thinner, brush strokes are very light, made with paints without lead content. The folds of Mary's clothes look traditionally Verokko heavy and immobile, as if carved from stone. One of the arguments of the supporters of the theory of collaboration is a sarcophagus standing between Mary and Archangel. This is a copy of the sarcophagus of Piero de ' Medici in the Church of San Lorenzo, made by Andrea Verokko. However, it is possible that the sarcophagus has portrayed Leonardo himself, as a tribute to the teacher.

There is another version "Annunciation"written a few years later and stored in the Louvre, which is currently considered to be the work of Leonardo. However, this picture is much more controversial. Many researchers tend to believe its author Lorenzo di credi. Preserved documentary evidence that this small panel with a biblical scene was part of the altar of the Cathedral of Pistoia. Most of the work performed Verokko, and "the Annunciation," he instructed di credi, one of his pupils. Leonardo repeatedly attributed to Dee's credit, and Vice versa, because they studied and worked Verokko at one time. Anyway, now the author of the Louvre "Annunciation" is recognized as da Vinci.

The Annunciation painting

Iconographic and pictorial traditions of image of the Annunciation formed almost from the very beginning of Christianity. One of the first works depicting the famous biblical scene, is considered fresco from the Roman catacombs of PriscillaIII century. For the most part, the canons and the rules here have evolved over many centuries before the advent of Leonardo da Vinci to light. At the time of writing of the "Annunciation" artist was only about 20 years old, he has not yet become famous as an experimenter and innovator, and that it went against tradition.

Around the V century formed the Canon, according to which Mary was depicted in the right part of the picture, and the Archangel Gabriel on the left. The details depend for the most part the text description of the scene of the Annunciation took for the basis of a particular artist. For example, in Luke the meeting of Mary with the angel that brought the Good news, is described quite briefly and sparingly. While there are many apocryphal texts which this scene is painted with much more detail. Many painters in their works was based on the Protevangelium of James, written in the mid second century, according to which Gabriel came to Mary twice: first at the source (or well) water, and then, in that moment, when she spun the threads for the purple veil of the temple in Jerusalem. Therefore, in many paintings the virgin is shown next to the source or the spindle in hand. According to other Apocrypha, in the time of the appearance of the Archangel Mary was reading the book of Isaiah, which predicted the coming of the Messiah. So artists, including da Vinci often wrote her with the bookin the hands or on the stand.

Usually, Mary was depicted not in the open space. But often call surrounding her home difficult. These interiorsmore like a Palace or a temple, as seen from the Windows of the scenery rather like a fairy tale than real. With the onset of the Renaissance, painters began to add in his paintings more space and air, touched it and works depicting the Annunciation: the virgin and the Archangel Gabriel movedfrom the rooms to the balconies and open galleries.
There are several details that distinguish most of the paintings on the theme of the Annunciation. Some of them, like spring at which Mary first meets Angela, transformirovalsyain the fountain or container of water. In many paintings Gabriel holds in his hands branch of white liliessymbolizing purity and chastity of Mary, sometimes the flowers are depicted in the center between the figures. In the case of da Vinci painting the Lily is a symbol of Florence. Some works of Lily replaces olive branch.


For a long time most scholars and art critics believed that some of the details of the "Annunciation" given the inexperience to Leonardo who made this painting around the age of 20 years. It is believed that at that time da Vinci was working with composition and perspective, so I made some noticeable mistakes. For example, the right hand of the virgin Mary looks unnaturally long, and it is depicted so that it appears closer to the viewer than the whole figure of a woman. The wall to the right of the virgin is too long and the lamp, standing on the sarcophagus is too far away.

However, one recent study showed that all of these "flaws" magically corrected, it is only the viewer to stand in the right spot relative to the picture. Scientists have suggested that while working on "the Annunciation", the artist knew that the potential audience will not stand directly in front of the picture, and will look to her right and a little below. Probably in the place where he planned to hang the work, she held a place in which to look at it was only possible from this position.

Now, if in the Uffizi Gallery, to stand to the right of the picture, wall it flattens out and becomes proportional to, and the lamp is moved closer to Mary. Her right arm is shortened to natural sizes and adopts the correct position relative to the viewer. In addition, if you look from the right point, the figure of the virgin Mary increases and becomes the center of the plot. Thus, the work of Leonardo is a not immature firstborn of a young artist, but a careful result of his optical researches and experiments.

Author: Eugene Sidelnikov