Francesco di Valdambrino
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These painted wood statues of the Annunciate Virgin and the Angel Gabriel are from the convent of San Francesco in Pisa, which became (after deconsecration) the Museo Civico and then the Museo di San Matteo, where these sculptures are still housed. These works were attributed by earlier scholars to Nino Pisano or a follower, because the Annunciate Virgin here follows closely Nino's marble sculpture in Santa Caterina in Pisa. After restoration and the discovery of an inscription on the very similar Madonna di Palaia, however, scholars currently agree in attributing these sculptures to the Sienese sculptor Francesco di Valdambrino and in placing them early in his career, in the late trecento or around 1400. The statue of Gabriel has holes in the back for wings, now lost, which could have been made of wood or possibly a more ephemeral material (fabric or even perhaps feathers). The gentle and humble Virgin, who was reading, inclines her head toward the angel, but curves her body away, her feet still facing the other direction, suggesting in the most delicate way thw twist of Mary's fate, and her initial hesitation and ultimate acceptance. Unlike many other wooden Annunciation pairs at the time, these figures are not carved in a way as to facilitate the addition of actual fabric clothing. Instead, Both figures have carved cloaks with great swooping folds that obscure their boies and add animation. In addition to the more expensive reds and blues, Gabriel and the Virgin are also dressed in white, a much cheaper colour (made from lead), but appropriate here in that one of its meanings was purity. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.