Annunciation

Abstract
These four separate wooden relief sculptures were originally attached to the same ground, forming a scene of the Annunciation. A restoration campaign in 2004 involved removing heavy gesso additions, which revealed the delicate carving, but unfortunately little of the original gesso or painted and gilded surface remained -- instead the bare wood is visible. The angel likely originally held a lily, and further lilies surely bloomed from the base. The angel looks humbly down, rather than at Mary directly, and the Virgin herself leans away from the angelic messenger, her hands crossed on her chest, both as if she is shrinking back from the angel's appearance and as if she is, at the end of their colloquy, submissively accepting her destiny: ""Behold the handmaiden of the Lord."" Scholars have notice a striking similarity between this scene and a carved Annunciation relief in the Galleria Nazionale in Perugia and have attributed this work on that basis either to an Umbrian artist or to one from the Veneto. People and goods travelled along the Adriatic in this period, especially from Venice into Puglia, including the port at Trani. These photographs were taken when the work was in an exhibition at the Palazzo Lanfranchi in Matera in 2019. Currently housed in San Toma in Trani, these sculptures were made in the mid fifteenth century for Santissima Annunziata in the same city, a church that was demolished in 1832. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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