There are many interesting elements to this project, which included a single main panel, as displayed here, as well as a good number of smaller pieces which would sit alongside. The technical term for those are predellas, and they would normally be lined up together in a similar way to a cartoon strip. It is the main panel which takes our focus here, and this features a number of elements that were typical of Fra Angelico's work. The use of architecture, for example, is typical of the 15th century which was a time during which the use of perspective within art was starting to change. One can compare this with the work of the Middle Ages, and then later in the Renaissance to see how things would develop over time. For the central painting, we discover two main figures placed within a building which boats some stunning arches and columns which line the outside areas of the construction.

The artist would use egg tempera for each panel piece, which was entirely in line with 15th century Italy, although many have suggested that some of the work for The Annunciation of Cortona was actually carried out by one of his more famous assistants, Zanobi Strozzi. Cross over and disagreements over their respective work has been fairly common because of how they would work closely together at different points in their career, and it has always been difficult to provide firm conclusions all these many years later. The predella features various scenes inspired by the life of the Virgin, namely:

  • Marriage of the Virgin
  • Adoration of the Magi
  • Presentation in the Temple
  • Dormition

The Annunication itself captures The Annunciation to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel, whose words are actually added in visually by the artist. The artist makes use of gold leaf paint which was regularly seen at this time but he would limit to to important parts of the painting in order to deliver the greatest impact. The angel's wings plus halos around both figures are chosen for the golden touches, but aside from that there is still plenty of interest to be found within the central painting. A wall garden is displayed all along the left hand side of the artwork, and then a further series of figures are included in the far distance. The building itself is also beautifully decorated, with touches of stone and cloth visible through the opening which is placed just between the Madonna and Archangel Gabriel, helping to make this one of the most memorable artworks from Fra Angelico's career. It has since been separated into different collections, with the main piece to be found at the Museo Diocesano in Cortona.

Annunciation of Cortona in Detail Fra Angelico