UNKNOWN MASTER, Spanish
(active 1400-1450 in Castile)
The Annunciationc. 1430
Wood, 140 x 169 cm
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona
The anonymous Castilian painter who in the first half of the fifteenth century painted this Annunciation was probably more of a craftsman than an artist. Certainly he had not assimilated the pictorial innovations already evident in Italy and north of the Alps. The work reveals an independence in the treatment which calls to mind the way in which the peasant craftsmen of Eastern Europe freely adapted acknowledged styles to suit local tastes when they decorated some of the churches of the Carpathian Basin. This work owes a great deal to Gothic art, but the Castilian painter has given free rein to his love of ornamentation. The lack of perspective seems unimportant where there is such a decorative use of colour for the garments, and the vase with three lilies distracts us from the clumsy proportions of the figure of Mary.