Annunciazione (c.1435-1440)

Lippi, Filippo (1406-1469)

Annunciazione (The Annunciation)
Tempera on panel, 100 x 161 cm
National Gallery of ArtWashington

Separated by a vertical, column-like partition, a woman to our right kneels opposite a winged angel to our left, who also kneels and holds the stem of a long white lily propped against one shoulder in this horizontal painting. The upper corners are curved, suggesting the panel was set in an arched frame. Both people have pale, peachy skin with a yellow cast, delicate facial features, and starburst-like gold halos hovering over blond, curly hair. To our left, the angel faces our right in profile, one hand held to the chest as the other, resting on the raised knee, holds the stem of the lily. The angel wears a voluminous, lavender-purple robe tied in pleats at the waist with a gold cord. The neckline is marigold orange, and the cuffs and hem are edged with gold. The wings emerging from the shoulder blades are made of rounded, gold and blue feathers like the eyes of peacock feathers. A white dove hovers above the angel’s head and gold rays extend toward the woman, to our right. The woman kneels, facing our left in profile, her head bowed. A gauzy white head covering is tied around her hair. She holds the sides of her deep blue robe at her chest, over a coral-red dress. The hem of the blue robe is edged with gold lettering resembling writing. She clutches a small, thick book with a teal-blue cover and gold edges in one hand at her chest. The angel and woman are separated by a slate-gray, column or partition, and the room behind each person is slightly different. The angel is set in a room with stone-gray walls with a doorway on the back wall, and rectangular openings on the wall to our left. The salmon-pink floor spans both rooms, but is banded with gray along the bottom edge of the painting to our right. The woman is in a room with a bench and shelves holding a thick book and a pink flower in a glass vase. A darkened doorway opens, presumably into another room, opposite us. A curtain hangs down along the partition in front of the angel, perhaps indicating that a window separates them. The rays emanating from the dove also disappear behind the partition to reemerge on the other side, suggesting a window. (NGA)