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The Annunciation

  • Object:

    Altarpiece

  • Place of origin:

    Florence (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1510-1520 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Robbia, Giovanni della, born 1469 (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    White and porphyry, enamelled terracotta

  • Museum number:

    7235:26-1860

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 50b, The Paul and Jill Ruddock Gallery, case WN, shelf EXP []

God the Father, shown above Gabriel’s head, releases the Holy Spirit towards Mary in the form of a dove. According to the Christian tradition this resulted in Christ’s conception. The theme of the Annunciation was especially popular in Tuscany as the feast of the Annunciation (March 25) marked the beginning of the New Year.

The composition may have been based on a painting. Identical pillars were used on an altarpiece in San Lucchese at Poggibonsi (1517 or 1514) by Giovanni della Robbia, who was one of the three sons of Andrea della Robbia (1435-1525) to enter his father's workshop.

Physical description

The scene is set between pilasters decorated with grotesque patterns. The rounded top is crowned by a palmette, and the base is supported on two brackets. The Virgin stands to the left in front of a canopied bed, between whose posts hang garlands. On this cornice are two vases filled with lilies. She looks down at the angel who kneels before her with a lily. Between them is a vase containing an unidentified plant. Above right a small figure of God the Father surrounded by cherubim despatches the Holy Spirit as a dove. The foreground is coloured in porphyry glaze.

Place of Origin

Florence (made)

Date

ca. 1510-1520 (made)

Artist/maker

Robbia, Giovanni della, born 1469 (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

White and porphyry, enamelled terracotta

Dimensions

Height: 235.6 cm, Width: 141.3 cm

Object history note

The composition may have been based on a painting. Identical pillars were used on an altarpiece in San Lucchese at Poggibonsi (1517 or 1514) by Giovanni della Robbia, who was one of the three sons of Andrea della Robbia (1435-1525) to enter his father's workshop.
Purchased in London.

Descriptive line

Altarpiece, enamelled terracotta, workshop of Giovanni della Robbia. Italy, Florence, ca. 1510-1520

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1860. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 11
Maclagan, Eric and Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture. Text. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1932, pp. 81,82
Gentilini, Giancarlo (ed.). I Della Robbia e L'Arte Nuova della Scultura Invetriata, (exh. cat.). Fiesole, Basilica di Sant' Alessandro, 1998, pp. 250-251
Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume I: Text. Eighth to Fifteenth Century. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1964, pp. 234, 35

Materials

Terracotta

Techniques

Enamelling

Subjects depicted

Dove; Angel; Lilies; Vase; Garlands; Plant; Bed

Categories

Architectural fittings; Christianity; Sculpture; Religion

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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