National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Angel of the Annunciation Simone Martini (artist)
Sienese, active from 1315; died 1344
The Angel of the Annunciation, c. 1330
tempera on poplar panel
painted surface (on recto): 29.5 x 20.5 cm (11 5/8 x 8 1/16 in.) overall: 31 x 21.5 cm (12 3/16 x 8 7/16 in.) painted surface (gesso ground on verso): 21 x 30.2 cm (8 1/4 x 11 7/8 in.) framed: 54.6 x 32.9 x 4.1 cm (21 1/2 x 12 15/16 x 1 5/8 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
On View
From the Tour: Painting in Siena in the 14th and Early 15th Centuries
Object 1 of 10

This small panel was originally half of a two-part panel made for private devotion. Rich with textured gold and marked by Gabriel's graceful silhouette, it is typical of Simone’s refined style.

Note the angel's ornate robe. In the decades following Marco Polo's return from China, thousands of caravans traveled the silk route carrying luxurious textiles west. As woven patterns of brocade and damask replaced embroidered and appliqued decoration, Italian cities grew wealthy from textile production and trade. Simone Martini devised new ways to re-create the look of these fabrics, and since much of the original paint of this panel has been lost, it is possible to see his technique. The entire panel, except for the hands and face, was gilded over an underlayer of red. Next Simone painted the angel’s robe in delicate pinks, shadowed with darker tones to define folds and the body. After tracing the outlines of the brocade, he scraped away the paint in the pattern area to reveal the gilding below, and finally textured the gold with tiny punches. This technique may have been inspired by Islamic “sgraffito” (scratched) ceramics, which were imported into Italy.

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