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Leonardo da Vinci, Annunciation (1472-1475)

Uffizi Gallery, Florence


Author: Leonardo da Vinci
Title: Annunciation
Date: 1472 - 1475
Technique: oil and tempera on panel
Dimension: 98 x 217 cm
Location: Florence, Uffizi Gallery

The Annunciation, now accredited to Leonardo da Vinci, was for long time ascribed to Domenico Ghirlandaio and there are no records of the commission and its original location.
The scene, unlike the tradition that sets the annunciation inside a room, takes place outdoors in the garden of a typical Florentine building. The Virgin is represented browsing an illuminated book placed on a lectern that in the decoration recalls the Florentine sculpture style of '400. The prospective setting on the figure is not entirely correct: for example, the right hand could not get to rest comfortably on the book, because of the distance that exists between the Virgin and the lectern. 
Leonardo, who uses the perspective to paint the lines of architectural elements, here introduces a new concept of space built through the use of light and color, as in the lake landscape that opens in the background, whose distance is suggested by the atmosphere and tones of blue. The depiction of the flowery meadow at the foot of the angel, instead shows the special attention of Leonardo for the natural world. Dozens of flowers decorate the lawn while beyond the boundary wall of the garden, a row of pine trees of different species defines the visual field, increasing the sense of remoteness of the small port.

Photo Shoot

Image Size: 10.278.737.724  pixel (150.708 x 68.203)
Colour Depth: 16 bit for Channel
Shooting: February 2010

Camera Body: Nikon D3X
Pictures Acquisition Software: Nikon Camera Control Pro 2
Quality Control and Postprocessing Software: Nikon Capture NX 2

Image used with permission from Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities with thanks to the Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico, the State Museums of Florence and the management and staff of the Uffizi Gallery.

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Leonardo da Vinci (VINCI 15 aprile 1452 – AMBOISE 2 maggio 1519)

He was born in Vinci 1452, illegitimate child of a notary and a countrywoman. After moving to Florence, he enters very young as apprentice in the workshop of a famous painter and sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio, who is in contact with Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Perugino. Around his twenty years he completed his training, in 1472 he is member the Company of Painter as a master. In that period the did the first works: a pen drawing of a mountain landscape, the Portrait of Ginevra Benci, the Madonna of carnation and the Annunciation of the Uffizi.
In 1480 he enters the Accademia del Giardino di San Marco, a sort of school of young painters wanted by Lorenzo il Magnifico. At the same time he receives the committee for the altar piece with the Adoration of the Magi, for the church of San Giovanni Scopeto, work that he will never finish, but that with Saint Girolamo gives important information on his artistic evolution and on his reached expressive maturity.
In 1842, being thirty years old, Leonardo suddenly leaves to Milan. The reasons of this journey are not clear: according to some bibliographers of the time (Vasari among them) he moves for Lorenzo il Magnifico for a sort of diplomatic mission, taking to Ludovico Sforza (known later as Ludovico il Moro maybe because of his dark skin) a precious gift. Probably Leonardo is also looking for new commissions, how he writes in a non signed letter in the Atlantic Code. He keeps a very strong tie with Milan, enough to make it one of his native lands. In the streets and palaces of Milan, the painter, engineer, sculptor and architect will have the possibility to create some of his grater works (the network of canals and closings of the Milan Navigli is an example) and to elaborate many of ideas and projects that will make Leonardo the eclectic genius of the Italian Renaissance.
In 1483 he paints one of his masterpieces, the Virgin of the Rocks, painted in two versions. Few years later he makes the project for the equestrian monument for Francesco Sforza that in the intentions had to celebrate the family dynasty. The genius of Leonardo is clear also in portraits, among these, the famous Lady with the ermine, in which he experiments his theory of the "soul motions" reaching important levels.
In 1494 the arrive of Carlo VII causes terror in half of Italy, but has no big consequences in the state of Ludovico il Moro. When the big committees seem to be scarce and Leonardo writes letter (or drafts of letters) to Ludovico complaining for his precarious economic condition, Ludovico il Moro gives him the greatest committee of his years in Milan: the decoration of Santa Maria delle Grazie with he artwork representing the apex of his production in Milan, the Last Supper.
After the fall of Ludovico Sforza and the invasion of Milan by the French, in 1499 Leonardo leaves Milan and after short stays in Mantua and Venice, he goes back to Florence. In his native land, after the realization of the drawing of Saint Anna (never realized as painting), he receives an important committee and decorates a part of the Room of the High Council in Palazzo Vecchio with the famous Anghiari Battle. In 1503 he starts a portrait destined to become one of the most famous portraits of the world, the Mona Lisa, maybe ended some ten years later.
In his artistic activity Leonardo alternates frequent journeys to Milan and Rome and France, in Amboise, on request of king Francesco I in person. He holds the office of "Premier peinctre et ingénieur et architecte du Roy, Meschanischien d'Estat". He dies in 1519 in the castle of Cloux, disposing of his manuscript and drownings to his pupil Francesco Melzi.