(b. 1430/35, Venezia, d. 1495, Camerino)
Annunciation with St Emidius1486
Oil on wood transferred to canvas, 207 x 147 cm
National Gallery, London
In 1482, Pope Sixtus IV granted the small city of Ascoli Piceno in the Marche 'libertas ecclesiastica', the right to self-government free from direct papal rule. According to contemporary accounts, the news of this important grant reached Ascoli on 25 March, the feast day of the Annunciation, a date and sacred event that thereafter assumed a central importance in the civic culture of the city. Four years later, the Venetian painter Carlo Crivelli was commissioned by the Observant Franciscan convent of the Annunziata in Ascoli to paint an altarpiece of the Annunciation celebrating the occasion. The finished painting was installed in the convent, most likely in the chapel of the Annunciate Virgin, in the same year, 1486. The civic background to this commission explains numerous unusual features within the work, specifically the urban setting, which recalls contemporary Ascoli, and the presence of the city's patron saint, Emidius, who can be seen with the Archangel Gabriel offering a model of the city to its protector, the Virgin Mary.