National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Annunciation Fra Carnevale (painter)
Umbrian-Florentine, active c. 1445 - 1484
The Annunciation, c. 1445/1450
tempera on panel
overall: 87.6 x 62.8 cm (34 1/2 x 24 3/4 in.) framed: 120 x 92.4 x 8.3 cm (47 1/4 x 36 3/8 x 3 1/4 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
On View
From the Tour: The Early Renaissance in Florence
Object 8 of 8

The style of Fra Carnevale, which draws on older artists like Fra Filippo Lippi, also shows evidence of newer trends, especially in his treatment of distant space. Follow the lines of the architecture: the regular rhythm of arcades and arches recedes into the background. The grid formed by the courtyard measures the distance for our eye.

These converging perspective lines lead to a door beyond which we glimpse a lush garden. This is not a random choice of landscape. The artist has used perspective not simply to create a convincing depiction of space, but to lead us to see the theological implications of his scene. In reference to her virginity, Mary was often called the hortus conclusus (enclosed garden) and the porta clausa (closed door). Many Annunciations translate these themes with visual images of locked doors and walled gardens. Here instead, the perspective takes us through an open door into the heavenly garden of Paradise. The Annunciation, because it is the beginning of Christ's human existence, also heralds the redemption of humankind. The open door underscores the promise of salvation as well as Mary's role in the Incarnation and as intercessor forthe prayers of men and women.

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