Matteo di Giovanni di Bartolo
Virgin of the Annunciation
Matteo di Giovanni di Bartolo, Italian, Virgin of the Annunciation, ca. 1474, Tempera and gold on wood panel; 73.7 x 41.9 x 5.1 cm (29 x 16 1/2 x 2 inches) updated during painting inventory project 12/7/04, Gift of Robert Lehman 57.301
This panel represents the Virgin Mary receiving the news that she was to become the Mother of Christ. It was designed as a component of a large multi-part altarpiece that was made for the Church of Sant’ Agostino in the hill town of Asciano, near Siena. Intended to flank a magnificent central depiction of the Assumption of the Virgin into heaven (now in the National Gallery, London), the Annunciation panel originally appeared as a pinnacle on the right wing of the altarpiece. A companion pinnacle depicting the Angel Gabriel, now lost, faced her on the opposite side. Mary is shown here with her hands clasped in prayer and her head bowed to indicate humility. Her purity is symbolized by a white lily, which arises from a long-necked vase and curves to form a lectern for her prayer book.