GENTILE DA FABRIANO*
(b. ca. 1370, Fabriano Marche, d. 1427, Roma)
Tempera and gold leaf on wood, 41 x 48 cm
This small panel, which combines the rigour of perspective construction with embellishments of pronounced courtly inspiration, is generally dated to around the year 1425, the year in which the painter, en route to Rome at the invitation of Pope Martin V Colonna (1417-51), spent a period of residence in Florence, where he was to create some of his greatest masterpieces.
The scene takes place in a room enclosed on three sides and opened in front as if by a portico. The room is lit by little rose windows and other windows of elaborate Gothic design. A frieze of miniature trefoil arches runs along the upper cornice of the room, defining the front edge of its coffered ceiling. An open arched doorway, through which the angel enters, admits to a garden, in which trees laden with fruit can be glimpsed to the far left. The Virgin is startled by the angel's annunciation as she sits, hands folded in her lap and open prayer book beside her, on an L-shaped settle, richly ornamented with intarsia panels in the shape of diamonds, lozenges, and intersecting circles.
* Gentile da Fabriano (c. 1370 – c. 1427) was an Italian painter known for his participation in the International Gothic style.