(b. ca. 1460, Ferrara, d. 1525, Cremona)

Annunciation to Mary

c. 1516
Cathedral, Cremona

The decoration of the Cremona Cathedral was begun in the semi-dome vault of the apse in 1506. Boccaccio Boccaccino depicted, following a time-honoured scheme, the Epiphany of God in the Last Days (Christ in Majesty) as the principal and culminating image within the church space. Later, in 1514 Boccaccino received the commission to begin a fresco cycle of the life of Mary and Christ on the walls of the nave. They begin on the left wall, running from the façade to the apse and then on the right wall from the apse back to the façade. The left wall is dedicated to Mary and Christ's childhood; the right to the Passion.

Boccaccino divided the rectangular sections above the arcades of the nave into two fields by painted pilasters. The scenes of the fresco cycle were placed into these sections. In 1514-15 Boccaccino began with the first four scenes of the story of Mary above the first and second arches of the arcade: Annunciation to Joachim; Meeting at the Golden Gate; Birth of Mary; Betrothal of Mary. Boccaccino painted the next four scenes of the cycle in 1515-17 above the third and fourth arches: Annunciation to Mary; Visitation; Adoration of the Shepherds; Circumcision of Christ.

In designing the cycle Boccaccino followed a famous model, Albrecht Dürer's woodcut series Life of the Virgin. Boccaccino did not copy Dürer's inventions, but found inspiration in just a few crucial constellations of figures. For the individual motifs, the formal language of the details, and the shaping of the whole, Boccaccino followed Italian traditions.

A majestic aura fills the space of the Annunciation to Mary. The angel in white garment approaches forcefully, with a grand gesture. On the floor the angel's garment and the red cloth of Mary's prie-dieu gently touch. Mary humbly leans her upper body forward slightly and at the same time looks up, facing the heavenly messenger.