Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Annunciation

The mosaic of the Annunciation in Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome
The Annunciation has been one of the most frequent subjects of Christian art.Depictions of the Annunciation go back to early Christianity, with the Priscilla catacomb including the oldest known fresco of the Annunciation, dating to the 4th century. It has been a favorite artistic subject in both the Christian East and as Roman Catholic Marian art, particularly during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and figures in the repertoire of almost all of the great masters. The figures of the Virgin Mary and the Angel Gabriel, being emblematic of purity and grace, were favorite subjects of Roman Catholic Marian art, where the scene is also used to represent the perpetual virginity of Mary via the announcement by the angel Gabriel that Mary would conceive a child to be born the Son of God.
A ceiling painting in the same church in Rome
Works on the subject have been created by artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Duccio, Jan van Eyck, and Murillo among others. The mosaics of Pietro Cavallini in Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome (1291), the frescos of Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (1303), Domenico Ghirlandaio's fresco at the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence (1486), and Donatello's gilded sculpture at the church of Santa Croce, Florence (1435) are famous examples. I personally visited Santa Maria in Trastevere in 2012 and was stunned by the beauty of the mosaics in the apse of the main church. I also found another painting of the Annunciation in a side-chapel, which many people may not notice when visiting this church.

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