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Benvenuto Tisi, known as Garofalo (Canaro, Rovigo 1476/1481 - Ferrara 1559)

1535 c.
D10. Painters from Ferrara
Oil on wood
55.2 x 76 cm
1890 n. 1365

The work represents the episode of the Annunciation [Gospel of Luke 1, 26-38], which for the Christian faith initiates the fulfilment of the incarnation of God. The scene takes place within a large porticoed space, dominated by an imposing but airy architecture: on the left the Archangel Gabriel, who has just arrived and with his clothes still raised, shows himself in all his magnificent elegance, carrying the announcement and a stem with three lilies in bloom, a tribute to the Virgin's purity and a reminder of the Trinity. Mary, dressed as a young girl of the 16th century, is represented on the right, in correspondence with the supporting column: taken by surprise during the hour of prayer, she turns back with a bold twist in the mannerist style. Her gaze suggests fear, but her attitude reveals the true disposition of her heart, tending towards the handing over of herself and the acceptance of the divine invitation.

Within the artist's production, a term of comparison on this same theme can be found in the Annunciation painted in 1528, now in the Capitoline Picture Gallery in Rome.

The work is dated well after Garofalo's second stay in Rome, when the artist developed a language that harmonises and synthesises all the elements gained from his training and experience: from the classical grace reminiscent of Raphael, greatly appreciated at the court of Alfonso d'Este in Ferrara, where Garofalo worked on several occasions, to the rendering of space learned in Rome from Giulio Romano, found here as a personal reworking. The scene expands, leading the eye to the perspectives of the landscape and the Virgin's bedroom, the most intimate place in the house. Finally, we find references to Venetian painting, in particular Titian, from whom Garofalo derives the intense chromaticism that lights up the reds of the clothes.

Kept in Palazzo Pitti since the beginning of the 18th century, the work arrived in the Uffizi in 1773.


A. M. Fioravanti Baraldi, Il Garofalo. Benvenuto Tisi pittore (c. 1476-1559). Catalogo generale, Rimini 1993; A. Pattanaro, Garofalo e la corte negli anni di Alfonso I (1505-1534), in Il camerino delle pitture di Alfonso I, a cura di A. Ballarin, 6 voll., Cittadella (Padova), 2002-2007; Garofalo. Pittore della Ferrara Estense, a cura di T. Kustodieva, M. Lucco, con la collaborazione di M. Danieli, catalogo della mostra (Ferrara, Castello Estense, 5 aprile-6 luglio 2008), mostra di Ermitage Italia, Milano 2008; A. Pattanaro, ad vocem “Garofalo”, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Vol. 95 (2019), con bibliografia precedente https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/tisi-benvenuto-detto-garofalo_%28Dizionario-Biografico%29/ 

Text by
Francesca Passerini
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