The Virgin Mary, kneeling in prayer, is interrupted by the Angel Gabriel, who points upward to a vision of God surrounded by clouds and angels. Between the figures of God and the Virgin is another blaze of light containing the dove of the Holy Spirit.
This is one of a group of relatively small-scale Annunciations by Veronese and his workshop. Much of the composition references an Annunciation that Veronese painted for the Escorial in Madrid. For that important commission for King Philip II of Spain, Veronese strategically drew inspiration from a version painted by
In the Gallery’s picture, Veronese has added several details traditionally associated with the iconography of the Annunciation, including the view of the Virgin’s bedchamber, on the right, and the crystal carafe, symbolic of her purity, in front of her.
This is one of a group of relatively small-scale Annunciations by
For the ex-Kisters picture, see Terisio Pignatti and Filippo Pedrocco, Veronese (Milan, 1995), 2:448. The authors described it as a preparatory modello for the Escorial Annunciation, but it seems rather to represent a derivation from the altarpiece, executed by a member of Veronese’s workshop.
See Aidan Weston-Lewis, “Titian’s Lost Annunciation Altarpiece for Murano: An Early Copy,” Artibus et Historiae 34, no. 68 (2013): 55–59.
According to George Ferguson, Signs and Symbols in Christian Art (New York, 1954), 17, a cat in a representation of the Annunciation may allude to the Devil, who is put to flight by the Incarnation of Christ, or it may refer to a legend that told of a cat giving birth in the stable where Christ was born.
There exists some critical disagreement about the chronological relationship between the Escorial Annunciation and the present picture, and also on the extent of workshop collaboration in the latter. Critics who have insisted on the high, autograph quality of the painting include Rodolfo Pallucchini and Teresio Pignatti;
Rodolfo Pallucchini, Mostra di Paolo Veronese (Venice, 1939), 199; Terisio Pignatti, Veronese (Venice, 1976), 1:162; Rodolfo Pallucchini, Veronese (Milan, 1984), 154, 187; Terisio Pignatti and Filippo Pedrocco, Veronese: Catalogo completo dei dipinti (Florence, 1991), 290; Terisio Pignatti and Filippo Pedrocco, Veronese (Milan, 1995), 2:448.
Daniel Catton Rich, “An Unpublished Veronese in Chicago,” Pantheon 7, no. 1 (1931): 20; Edoardo Arslan, “Nota su Veronese e Zelotti,” Belle arti 1, nos. 5–6 (1948): 236; Remigio Marini, Tutta la pittura di Paolo Veronese (Milan, 1968), 125–126; Richard Cocke, “Review of Veronese, L’Opera Completa, by Terisio Pignatti,” The Burlington Magazine 119 (1977): 787; Fern Rusk Shapley, Catalogue of the Italian Paintings (Washington, DC, 1979), 1:524–525.
Terisio Pignatti, Veronese (Venice, 1976), 1:162; Terisio Pignatti and Filippo Pedrocco, Veronese: Catalogo completo dei dipinti (Florence, 1991), 290.
In his monograph of 1995, however, Pignatti described the Escorial altarpiece as the first in the series of Veronese’s late Annunciations, an apparent change of opinion that seems fully justified. The Escorial picture was commissioned as part of the multipaneled retablo for the high altar of the royal basilica;
Rosemarie Mulcahy, The Decoration of the Royal Basilica of El Escorial (Cambridge, 1994), 148–149.
For the circumstances of the gift, see Harold Wethey, The Paintings of Titian (London, 1969), 1:70. Titian’s painting, which was later kept at the royal palace of Aranjuez, was destroyed about 1814 during the Peninsular War.
In keeping with the officially sanctioned belief that the city of Venice came into existence on the Feast of the Annunciation in the year 421, the image of the Virgin Annunciate traditionally formed a central element of Venetian political iconography, most notably in the Annunciation group represented in the mid-14th century by Guariento on either side of his monumental fresco depicting the Coronation of the Virgin in the Sala del Maggior Consiglio in the Doge’s Palace. In a study of Veronese’s series of Annunciations of the 1580s, Daniel Arasse found it no coincidence that the subject should have found particular success in the context of private devotion in the decade following the destruction of Guariento’s fresco by fire (1577) and coinciding with a particularly terrible outbreak of the plague (1575–1577).
Daniel Arasse, “Les annonciations de Véronèse ou l’atelier de la devotion,” in Nuovi studi su Paolo Veronese, ed. Massimo Gemin (Venice, 1990), 204–213.
From the time of its earliest known record, at the Carignan sale in Paris in 1742, until its sale at Christie’s in 1785, the Annunciation was paired with a Noli Me Tangere by Veronese of the identical format and dimensions.
See Provenance, note 1. As pointed out by Burton Fredericksen (message to Peter Humfrey of Feb. 4, 2009), the two were sold as parts of the same lot at the Carignan, Conti, Poullain, and Vaudreuil sales (see Provenance), while at the Christie’s sale of 1785, the Noli Me Tangere appears as the following lot (no. 80).
March 21, 2019
Victor Amédée, 3rd prince de Carignan [1690-1741], Paris; (his estate sale, Hôtel de Soissons, Paris, 30 July 1742 and days following, unnumbered lots, bought in); (his estate sale, Hôtel de Soissons, Paris, 18 June 1743 and days following, no. 101); purchased by Thibaut for Louis François I de Bourbon, prince de Conti [1717-1776], Paris; (his estate sale, Palais du Temple, Paris, 8 April 1777 and days following, no. 104); purchased by (Jacques Langlier, Paris) for Antoine Poullain [d. 1780], Paris; (Poullain estate sale, Hôtel de Bullion, Paris, 15-21 March 1780, 3rd day, no. 4); (Jean Baptiste Pierre Le Brun, Paris); Joseph Hyacinthe François de Paul de Rigaud, comte de Vaudreuil [1740-1817], Paris; (his sale, Hôtel de Bullion, Paris, 24-25 November 1784, 2nd day, no. 6); (J.P.B. Le Brun, Paris and London); (Le Brun sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 18-19 March 1785, 2nd day, no. 79); Welbore Ellis Agar [1735-1805], London; by inheritance to his illegitimate sons, Welbore Felix Agar [d. 1836] and Sir Emmanuel Felix Agar [1781-1866]; purchased 1806 with the entire Agar collection by Robert Grosvenor, 1st marquess of Westminster [1767-1845], Eaton Hall, Cheshire, England; by inheritance to his son, Richard Grosvenor, 2nd marquess of Westminster [1795-1869], Eaton Hall; by inheritance to his son, Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, 1st duke of Westminster [1825-1899], Eaton Hall; by inheritance to his grandson, Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, 2nd duke of Westminster [1879-1953], Eaton Hall; (Westminster sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 4 July 1924, no. 58); (Buttery, London). (Julius Böhler, Munich and Lucerne); sold 17 February 1925 to Julius H. Haass [1856-1931], Detroit; by inheritance to his wife, Lillian Henkel Haass [1879-1960], Detroit, until at least 1949. (Newhouse Galleries, New York). (Frederick Mont, Inc., New York), from at least 1956; sold 14 February 1957 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1959 to NGA.
Associated NamesAgar, Emmanuel Felix, Sir
Agar, Welbore Ellis
Agar, Welbore Felix
Bourbon, prince de Conti, Louis François I de
Carignan, Victor Amédée, 3rd prince de
Christie, Manson & Woods, Ltd.
Grosvenor, 1st marquis of Westminster, Robert
Grosvenor, 2nd duke of Westminster, Hugh Richard Arthur
Grosvenor, 2nd marquis of Westminster, Richard
Grosvenor, Hugh Lupus, 1st duke of Westminster
Haass, Julius H.
Haass, Lillian Henkel
Kress Foundation, Samuel H.
Le Brun, Jean-Baptiste-Pierre
Mont, Inc., Frederick
Rigaud, comte de Vaudreuil, Joseph-Hyacinthe-François de Paul de
- Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters, and by Deceased Masters of the British School. Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1876, no. 130.
- Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters and Deceased Masters of the British School. Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1903, no. 52.
- Fifth Loan Exhibition of Old and Modern Masters, The Detroit Institute of Arts, 1927, no. 24.
- [Loan Exhibition], The Detroit Institute of Arts, 1929.
- Mostra di Paolo Veronese, Ca' Giustinian, Venice, 1939, no. 86, repro.
- Masterpieces of Art from European and American Collections. Twenty-second Loan Exhibition of Old Masters, The Detroit Institute of Arts, 1941, no. 63.
- Masterpieces of Painting from Detroit Private Collections, The Detroit Institute of Arts, 1949, no. 35, pl. 4.
X-radiographs reveal that strips respectively measuring 7.3 centimeters and 6.4 centimeters wide have been sewn to the original fabric support at the top and bottom. All of the fabrics are plain weave, but these added strips are coarser than the relatively fine main support fabric and were certainly later additions; they were already present by 1781, however, when the composition was engraved.
By Le Grand (in reverse) in François Basan, ed., Collection de cent-vingt estampes, gravées d’après les tableaux & dessins qui composoient le cabinet de M. Poullain (Paris, 1781), pl. 78.
Microscopic examination has confirmed that the canvas was primed with a dark, reddish-brown ground, and this is visible to the naked eye beneath the thinnest paint layers. The paint was applied fluidly with vigorous brushstrokes.
The rather thick varnish has discolored, obscuring the vibrancy of the original palette. The extensive retouching that covers mild abrasion to the paint and numerous small repairs has similarly discolored.
Peter Humfrey and Joanna Dunn based on the examination report by Jia-sun Tsang
March 21, 2019
- Basan, François, ed. Collection de cent-vingt estampes, gravées d’après les tableaux & dessins qui composoient le cabinet de M. Poullain. Paris, 1781: 14, pl. 78.
- Rich, Daniel Catton. “An Unpublished Veronese in Chicago.” Pantheon 7, no. 1 (1931): 20.
- Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works with an Index of Places. Oxford, 1932: 420.
- Fiocco, Giuseppe. Paolo Veronese. Rome, 1934: 127.
- Pallucchini, Rodolfo. Mostra di Paolo Veronese. Exh. cat. Ca’ Giustinian, Venice, 1939: 198-199 no. 86.
- Arslan, Edoardo. “Nota su Veronese e Zelotti.” Belle Arti 1, nos. 5-6 (1948): 236.
- Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Venetian School. 2 vols. London, 1957: 1:130.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 209, repro.
- Richardson, E. P., ed. "Accessions of American and Canadian Museums, April-June 1959." The Art Quarterly 22, no. 3 (Autumn 1959): 277.
- Walker, John, Guy Emerson, and Charles Seymour. Art Treasures for America: An Anthology of Paintings & Sculpture in the Samuel H. Kress Collection. London, 1961: 126, repro. pl. 118.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 308, repro.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 136.
- Marini, Remigio. Tutta la pittura di Paolo Veronese. Milan, 1968: 125-126, no. 255.
- National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 123, repro.
- Fredericksen, Burton B., and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972: 40, 305, 647.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XVI-XVIII Century. London, 1973: 39-40, fig. 73.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 364, repro.
- Pignatti, Terisio. Veronese. 2 vols. Venice, 1976: 1:162, no. 312.
- Cocke, Richard. “Review of Veronese, L’Opera Completa, by Terisio Pignatti.” The Burlington Magazine 119 (1977): 787.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: 1:524-525; 2:pl. 365, as Veronese and Studio.
- Badt, Kurt. Paolo Veronese. Cologne, 1981: 40, 184.
- Pallucchini, Rodolfo. Veronese. Milan, 1984: 154, 187.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 215, no. 260, color repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 422, repro.
- Pignatti, Terisio, and Filippo Pedrocco. Veronese: Catalogo completo dei dipinti. Florence, 1991: 290, no. 220.
- Mulcahy, Rosemarie. The Decoration of the Royal Basilica of El Escorial. Cambridge, 1994: 149.
- Pignatti, Terisio, and Filippo Pedrocco. Veronese. 2 vols. Milan, 1995: 2:448 no. 343.
- Huber, Hans Dieter. Paolo Veronese: Kunst als soziales System. Munich, 2005: 459.