Annunciation Piero della Francesca Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Annunciation is a fresco by Piero Della Francesca that he did in 1455. Unofficially, it is considered part of the Legend of the True Cross, a series of frescoes that put the Italian artist on the map.

The Legend of the True Cross tells the story of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Annunciation was not part of the cycle that makes up the legend, but Piero Della Francesca added it after being convinced by his patrons. The tale of the Annunciation is important to the legend because it tells of the incarnation of Christ.

Piero's Annunciation is a composition of four parts that incorporate heaven and earth. On the top left corner of the fresco is God the Father, floating on a bed of clouds. His hands are outstretched before him as they release golden rays, seemingly to the world below. The bottom-left part has the angel Gabriel in red and white, delivering the good news to the Virgin Mary. It looks like the angel is in Mary's courtyard, with the closed doorway behind him. Rather than a lily in his left hand, Gabriel holds a palm frond, which symbolises the future suffering that the expected Messiah will go through. In the story of salvation, the palm represents the keys to heaven. In the lower right quadrant is the Virgin Mary, a towering figure that stands out in her surroundings. The Virgin is standing outside her home, Casa Santa, which is a beautiful marble architecture that extends to the top right quadrant.

Piero Della Francesca practices great symmetry with this piece, particularly the structure. Each line is crafted to add depth to the building. From the intricately detailed door to the column, every aspect is finely cut to add proportion to the painting. Piero Della Francesca pays attention to the tiniest details like the string of pearls around Mary's midriff or the shadows that fall on the delicate marble. The effect he achieves is a well-told story that complements the True Cross Legend beautifully. Various artists such as Leonardo da Vinci have told the story of the Annunciation in different mediums. It is a theme that was popular with the Italian Renaissance, and varied art pieces had their representations. The story is usually set in the 15th century in impressive marble structures. In this artwork, Piero brings out the warmth and humility of the Virgin Mary despite her stature.