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Angel of the Annunciation

Author
Francesco Morone (Verona c. 1471 – 1529)
Date
1495 - 1496
Location
Contini Bonacossi collection
Technique
Oil on canvas
Size
208 x 94 cm
Inventory
Contini Bonacossi no. 12

This painting is believed to have been the left-hand door of a church organ, together with the canvas entitled Virgin Annunciate also in the Uffizi (Contini Bonacossi Inventory no. 11). Archangel Gabriel is depicted bringing a lily to Mary as he announces the birth of the son of God. The angel’s movement is expressed by the wavy design of the flaps of his stole, a priestly garment often used in depictions of angelic attire. The scene is set in a loggia that opens out onto the view of a city, mostly occupied by a crenellated city wall. At the top of the building, on the architrave, there is a monstrance, a liturgical object used to display the consecrated host to worshippers. This unusual detail may be related to the commissioner of the painting and could indicate a particular veneration for the “corpus domini”.

The work can be dated to the early period of Veronese painter, Francesco Morone, when he worked with his father Domenico on altarpieces and frescoes. His work displays his father’s same solid use of perspective and approach to drawing, even if he would gradually develop his own artistic style, influenced by other painters from different cultural backgrounds. One of these was Andrea Mantegna, whom Morone considered a master, and whose altarpiece in the church of San Zeno in Verona became a model of reference, also for the architectural configuration of this canvas and that of the Annunciation in the Uffizi.

The setting is majestic, with columns, architraves and beams on the ceiling, creating a curious alternation of interior and exterior spaces. Yet, its solemn nature is mellowed by the calm gestures of the figures, creating an intimate and contemplative atmosphere.

Both canvases were owned by Veronese collector Andrea Monga (1794-1861) in Verona and sold by the heirs of Alessandro Contini Bonacossi in around 1913.