Francesco di Valdambrino
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Francesco di Valdambrino, Jacopo della Quercia, and other Sienese artists made many of these pairs of large (almost life-size) statues of the the Angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary, possibly to stand in niches on either side of a chapel or nave, creating almost theatrical tableaux. In all cases, Gabriel has lost his wings (originally slotted into cavities in the back of the statue), which could have been made of wood or perhaps of a more fragile material -- cloth or even feathers, which would explain why they do not survive. In this case, Gabriel also must have held a lily (or a sculpture of a lily), as the scroll in his left hand has a hole for the stem. The Virgin Mary only wears a red dress, without the traditional blue cloak or veil, and so the figure may have been originally dressed with actual clothing (as is clearly the case for other Annunciation pairs from this time). Scholars agree that this pair was made by the Sienese specialist in wood sculpture, Francesco di Valdambrino, but debate the dating. The sculptures are carved from poplar (hollowed) and fully polychromed, but some parts of the polychromy are poorly preserved, as are the delicate fingers. These sculptures, now in the Museo di Palazzo Corboli, Asciano, came from San Lorenzo in Asciano, where they were in niches on either side of the entrance in the 19th century. One scholar has suggested that they may have been the works documented as having been made for the Cathedral of Asciano in 1411, though it is not clear how or when they were moved to San Lorenzo. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.