More Annunciations
Below is the Annunciation in the Prado, Madrid. It is similar in many ways to the version in Cortona, which was painted around 7 years later. It was painted for the Dominican convent in Fiesole, where Fra Angelico was resident.
   The predella has a very similar sequence of images to the Cortona version, but the image of Adam and Eve being cast out of Eden is much more prominent. There is a clearer view 'indoors': another interesting feature is the arrival of the dove of the Holy Spirit along a sunbeam.

The version I have yet to see. It is in the museum attached to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, San Giovanni Valdarno, between Florence and Arezzo. The predella has the familiar sequence: Marriage, Visitation, Magi, Presentation, Dormition. The face of the Virgin has plenty of character, and the Isaiah image is more characterful too. The garden is shown through the arches, rather than to the side of them. The panel was stolen by Germany in world war two, but safely returned.  


Below are two Frescos from San Marco, Florence, the Dominican convent full of masterpieces by Fra Angelico. The image on the left is at the top of the stairs leading to the cells. A copy is at the top of the stairs in our house. The simple version on the right is on the wall of one of the cells. St Dominic observes the event.

The first image below isn't by Fra Angelico, but there is a fascinating connection to him.
This is a fresco in the
Basilica della Santissima Annunziata, Florence, painted in 1252. The legend tells us that the painting was begun by a friar named Bartolemeo. He gave up in despair when he couldn't paint a sufficiently beautiful face for the virgin, and he settled down to sleep. When he woke up, the fresco had been completed - by an angel!
  As the years went by, the church became an important pilgrimage destination. To the delight of the church authorities, gifts of silver were donated. To keep them safe, a wooden cabinet was donated, the Armadio degli Argenti (Silver Chest).  It had moveable shutters, decorated with 41 painted panels, mostly by Fra Angelico. I have written a post about the art on the Armadio degli Argenti here, looking at all the panels.


Below left is one of those panels by Fra Angelico, his own version of the Annunciation. The surviving panels are in the museum at San Marco.
  On the right below is a small panel now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. It is described as 'by a follower of Fra Angelico'. It is an image I have always liked; quite clearly, the inspiration for it was the panel from Santissima Annunziata, though the posture of the angel is quite different.

  Early in his career Fra Angelico worked on manuscript illuminations. He continued with this work later on; the image below dates from c 1430. It shows the Annunciation as part of an initial letter R.
Back to the Cortona Annunciation.                                                                          Home page - explore the site