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Alessandro Magnasco
Annunciation a Painting by Alessandro Magnasco, an Italian Baroque Painter

Circa 1720

$86,689.97

About

This painting, powerfully executed, is recognised by all biographers as a work by Alessandro Magnasco. It represents the Annunciation, that is to say the decisive moment in which the Virgin Mary accepts to fulfil the Word of God in the presence of the Angel Gabriel – and thereby the mystery of Incarnation. 1. Alessandro Magnasco Born in Genoa, Alessandro Magnasco briefly became a pupil of Valerio Castello after the death of his father, the painter Stefano Magnasco in 1674, before joining Filippo Abbiati's studio in Milan. In Milan he met the landscape painters Carlo Antonio Tavella, Clemente Spera and Antonio Francesco Peruzzini, with whom he collaborated as a "figurista" i.e. character painter and became friends with Sebastiano Ricci. He then stayed in Florence between 1703 and 1710, a period during which he continued his collaboration with Peruzzini. He worked mainly for the Crown Prince Ferdinand and his family, which led him to collaborate with the landscape painter Crescenzio Onofri. It was also in Florence that he discovered the engraved works of Jacques Callot and Stefano della Bella, which were to have a significant influence on his work. On the death of Crown Prince Ferdinand in 1710 Magnasco returned to Milan where he remained until 1735. Our painting was accomplished during this second stay in Milan, probably towards the end of the 1710s. It is a mature work by the painter, in which he fully displays his original and lively style, without falling into the more fragmentary touch that characterised his later works, especially after his return to Genoa in 1735. 2. Description of the artwork This representation of the Annunciation respects the characteristic canons of the Counter-Reformation, as defined by the Council of Trent (1545 - 1563). Whereas Renaissance illustrations usually placed the Annunciation in an outdoor gallery open to the perspective of a garden, the Angel Gabriel here appears to the Virgin Mary in the privacy of her room (details of the canopy of her bed can be seen in the background) but is separated from her by clouds, which accentuate his supernatural side. His body is depicted in a vigorous "contrapposto" typical of the Baroque period, in which the main part of the Angel's weight rests on his left leg, accentuating the dynamic movement of his right arm, which points to the dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit. His left hand holds the branch of lily, of which only the flowery top is visible behind his shoulders. Mary's body, also in an inverted "contrapposto", is entirely oriented towards the diagonal line that follows the radiance of the dove. Kneeling in prayer as she reads the Scriptures, her right hand seems to point to herself as a sign of acceptance, while her left arm moves away from her body as if to express surprise. The colour range is of great subtlety: on a brown background the pink and blue of the Virgin's garment stand out, contrasting with the yellow, slightly tinted with green garment of the Angel. The most mysterious element of this painting can be found in the middle of the triangle formed by the Angel, the dove and the Virgin Mary: an abstract rectangle, slightly opalescent, like a source of light at the back of the picture, without it being clear whether it is a painting or a mirror. 3. Influences and place in the painter's work Beyond the Venetian Annunciations (such as the Titian Annunciation in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco or the one by Tintoretto, once in the Berlin Museum but destroyed during the Second World War), it seems to us that the main source of inspiration for our painting must be sought in Tuscan Mannerism and in particular in the Annunciation by Domenico di Pace, known as Beccafumi (1486 - 1551), now kept in Sarteano. In this painting we can observe the same triangular structure of the space between the Angel, the Dove and the Virgin, the same opening towards an indefinite elsewhere and the same inconsistency in the lighting of the overall space. In his painting Beccafumi "dissolves the geometric principle of regular perspective" . He organises the image through the use of light and shade. The light illuminates the Virgin and the Angel almost frontally, but laterally illuminates the doorway to the right of the opening onto a landscape - a landscape that retains some ambiguity since it could also merely be the representation of a landscape. In Magnasco’s painting, the shadow of the Angel suggests lighting from the left hand side but does not explain the luminous emergence of the white rectangle on the wall that frames the space of this chamber. The sobriety of Magnasco's representation, reduced here to its essential elements, brings it closer to a "pensiero" or first thought of a larger work, often carried out quickly, if not executed immediately. The firmness of his touch is one of the characteristics of Magnasco's style. One of the first writers to write about Magnasco, P.A. Orlandi in his "Abecedario Pittorico" published in Bologna in 1719, praised Magnasco's style "certa mossa di tocchi risoluti, e spediti" (a movement full of resolute and rapid strokes). Our painting is Magnasco's only illustration of the Annunciation and is in many ways an atypical work in his artistic production. Firstly, it is an interior scene in which one does not recognise the involvement of another painter, whereas most of Magnasco's other paintings are collaborations in which he painted the characters in other painters’ landscapes. Secondly, it is a scene of remarkable saving of means (the Angel, the dove, the Virgin) as most of his other paintings represent scenes teeming with life and truculent details. 4. The Annunciation and the representation of the mystery of the Incarnation Pondering on this painting leads us to wonder about this luminous rectangle, a true abstraction before its time, which constitutes the focal point of our painting. This space could evoke both a landscape without having its precision, or a mirror without having its reflection. Inspired by the chapters devoted to the theme of the Annunciation published by Daniel Arasse in ‘Histoires de Peinture’, one could think that the presence of this space illustrates the invisible reality of the mystery which is accomplished by the acceptance of Mary: the Incarnation. And as Daniel Arasse points out, "the Incarnation is the moment when the Trinity is accomplished", a Trinity whose symbolic composition can be found in the triangle formed by the Angel, the dove and Mary. Main bibliographical references : P.A Orlandi: The Abecedario Pittorico, Bologna - 1719 Fausta Franchini Guelfi: Alessandro Magnasco, Genoa - 1977 (our work is reproduced and commented on pages 156-157) Laura Muti - Daniele de Sarno Prignano: Magnasco, Faenza - 1994 (catalogue number 412 / figure 435) Daniel Arasse: L’Annonciation Italienne, Paris - 1999 Daniel Arasse: Histoires de Peinture, Paris - 2004

Details

  • Creator
    Alessandro Magnasco (1667 - 1749)
  • Creation Year
    Circa 1720
  • Dimensions
    Height: 19.77 in. (50.2 cm)Width: 28.75 in. (73 cm)
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Period
    1710-1719
  • Condition
    This painting has been restored - condition report available upon request Size with frame : 63.2 x 86.4 cm (50.2 x 73 cm unframed).
  • Gallery Location
    PARIS, FR
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU156828206022

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    $99 $16.89 Standard Parcel Shipping
    to United States 0, arrives in 8-10 days.
    We recommend this shipping type based on item size, type and fragility.
    Estimated Customs Duties & Taxes to the Continental US: $0.
    Ships From: PARIS, France
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 3 days of delivery.

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