The Chapel of the Annunciation is located just to the left of the main altar in the central nave in the Cathedral of Matera. The elaborate chapel features 282 gilded coffered squares on the barrel vaulted ceiling, in the middle of which a sculpture of God the Father descends head-first into the chapel below, his arm reaching out beyond the frame to which he is confined. On the main altar a scene of the Annunciation is flanked by statues of St. Roche, on the left, and St. Catherine of Alexandria on the right. Catherine and Roche step forward out of their shallow niches, too large to fit comfortably under the shell-headed semi-domes, while Mary and Gabriel enact their holy drama as if on a stage, a shallow box with curtains drawn back to reveal the action. A Pieta is placed in the arch above, Mary's head overlapping the architectural membering. These figures, too large to fit comfortably in the architecture, have an insistent presence that projects bodily into the space of the viewer. The ornate classically-inspired architecture is rich with ornament, including curls of foliage, cherub heads, and grotesque faces. Although the chapel is now attributed to Altobello Persio, some have suggested it is the work of his son Giulio Persio. The original altar was replaced in the 1750s by the marble altar seen today. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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