(b. ca. 1400, Vicchio nell Mugello, d. 1455, Roma)

The Annunciation

Fresco, 230 x 321 cm
Convento di San Marco, Florence

This fresco is situated on the wall of the northern corridor on the upper floor in front of the staircase in the Convento di San Marco in Florence. It was painted on Angelico's return from Rome in 1450, and is therefore several years later than the majority of the frescoes at San Marco. In style it falls between the sparseness of The Annunciation in cell 3 and the richness of the Cortona altarpiece. Unlike in the Cortona version, the garden is here viewed through a colonnade of columns which recede to a vanishing point near the centre of the painting.

Under the arches between the Corinthian columns are the slender figures of the Madonna and of the angel in devout converse, regulated with the rhythm of gentle curves; in the background, on the left, the celestial fields with Tuscan cypresses; Gabriel's wings stretch out like a rainbow. It is the theme of the tabernacles which multiply themselves at the crossing of the ways; the greeting taken from the mediaeval hymnology and the invitation addressed to the passer-by and writings under the painting show Angelico's most cultivated devotion: Salve, Mater pietatis / et totius Trinitatis / nobile triclinium / Maria!

The lighting of the scene is curiously illogical, the interior of the arcaded loggia is evenly illuminated, despite the fairly strong light coming from the left.