Mirabello Cavalori, Italian, Annunciate Virgin, ca. 1560, Oil on panel; 144.8 x 86.4 cm (57 x 34 inches), Lyra Brown Nicherson Bequest 16.464X
This scene from the Annunciation is all that remains of a commission for the Church of Santa Margherita, the devotional center of a hospital and monastery in the Tuscan city of Prato. Its daring color and figural exaggeration are aspects of a late-Renaissance Mannerist style for which the Florentine artist Mirabello Cavalori was known. Like many candlelit altarpieces, the painting was damaged by fire, destroying the figure of the Angel Gabriel. At left, his surviving hand draws the gaze of the Virgin Mary, who is seated in a 16th-century palazzo near a balcony overlooking a mountainous landscape. Her modest but luxurious attire represents Prato’s renowned textile industry and suggests as patrons the powerful families and guilds under which it flourished. Her brilliantly striped headcovering and deep-hued gown and sleeves attest to the artisanal expertise of the city’s weavers and wool dyers. Draped across Mary’s lap, a gold-edged cloth serves as a scapular, or work apron. A basket at her feet is filled with bobbins, shears, and bits of lace, symbols of the unfinished task to which she has been called.