|Leonardo da Vinci, The Annunciation c. 1472|
This is one of the pieces I was fortunate enough to see in person at the Uffizi gallery when I was studying abroad in Florence. Although it's one of this infamous artist's earlier works, Leonardo's style of painting is still immediately recognizable. The atmospheric background and layers upon layers of paint that create both depth and transparency are techniques that we can see developed in his later works. Point of view & perspective is also explored in this early work - seen from straight on, some of the perspectives seem off, like the foreshortening of the building wall behind the Virgin Mary as well as the length of her arm. However, if you view the painting from the right and slightly below, all these elements even out. This tells us that the painting was meant to be seen from a very specific viewpoint, most likely displayed in some sort of religious building.
I love the details in the background - I feel like I could step through the canvas and explore the city painted in the distance. And check out that sheer fabric on the pedestal - wow.
I don't know about you, but the thing I find interesting looking at this painting is that Mary is the one who looks ethereal and otherworldly with her pale skin and hair. Gabriel's figure has an interesting weight and solidity to it even with his wings! I don't think my expression would be so peaceful if an angel appeared to me to tell me I was going to bear God's son! :) Anyway, I hope you enjoy the beautiful detail in this painting - you can explore it more over on the Google Cultural Institute. Happy weekend!
See the previous posts in this series here: Van Gogh's Starry Night // Vermeer's A Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window