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Annunciate Virgin

Francesco Morone (Verona c. 1471 – 1529)

1495 - 1496
B4. Giovanni Bellini
Oil on canvas
208 x 94 cm
Contini Bonacossi no. 11

This canvas is the right-hand panel of a group depicting the Virgin Annunciate. Here she is kneeling before a sort of altar on which a book rests. She has her head humbly bowed and her hands are clasped as she expresses her acceptance of divine will. Other books in the background, exclusive precious items belonging to the wealthier classes and the clergy, indicate that Mary is an educated woman.

The venue of the Annunciation is an imaginary setting, a loggia rendered smaller and more sheltered by the drapes closing off the background. The columns are decorated with plant festoons laden with fruit, a symbol of prosperity inspired by the Greek and Roman art in vogue during the Renaissance. Together with its pendant, portraying the Archangel Gabriel(Contini Bonacossi Inventory no. 12), this is believed to have been the right-hand door of a church organ.

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.

Text by
Daniela Parenti
Related artworks

Angel of the Annunciation

Francesco Morone (Verona c. 1471 – 1529)

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