Annunciation is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artists Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Verrocchio, dating from circa 1472–1475. It is housed in the Uffizi gallery of Florence, Italy.
The subject matter is drawn from Luke 1.26-39 and depicts the angel Gabriel, sent by God to announce to a virgin, Mary, that she would miraculously conceive and give birth to a son, to be named Jesus, and to be called "the Son of God" whose reign would never end. The subject was very popular for artworks and had been depicted many times in the art of Florence, including several examples by the Early Renaissance painter Fra Angelico. The details of its commission and its early history remain obscure.
In 1867, following Gustav Waagen methods, Baron Liphart identified this Annunciation, newly arrived in the Uffizi Gallery from a convent near Florence, as by the young Leonardo, still working in the studio of his master Verrocchio. The painting has since been attributed to different artists, including Leonardo and Verrocchio's contemporary Domenico Ghirlandaio. It was more recently determined to be a collaboration between Leonardo and his master Verrocchio, with whom Leonardo collaborated on the Baptism of Jesus.
The angel holds a Madonna lily, a symbol of Mary's virginity and of the city of Florence. It is supposed that Leonardo originally copied the wings from those of a bird in flight, but they have since been lengthened by a later artist.
When the Annunciation came to the Uffizi in 1867, from the Olivetan monastery of San Bartolomeo, near Florence, it was ascribed to Domenico Ghirlandaio, who was, like Leonardo, an apprentice in the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio. In 1869, Karl Eduard von Liphart, the central figure of the German expatriate art colony in Florence, recognized it as a youthful work by da Vinci, one of the first attributions of a surviving work to the youthful Leonardo. Since then a preparatory drawing for the angel's sleeve has been recognized and attributed to Leonardo.
Verrocchio used lead-based paint and heavy brush strokes. He left a note for Leonardo to finish the background and the angel. Leonardo used light brush strokes and no lead. When the Annunciation was x-rayed, Verrocchio's work was evident while Leonardo's angel was invisible.
The marble table, in front of the Virgin, probably quotes the tomb of Piero and Giovanni de' Medici in the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence, which Verrocchio had sculpted during this same period. Some immature hesitancies are usually noted, especially the Virgin's ambiguous spatial relation to the desk and the marble on which it rests.
On March 12, 2007, the painting was at the center of a furor between Italian citizens and the Minister of Culture, who decided to place the picture on loan to exhibit in Japan.
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