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Archangel Gabriel and Virgin Annunciate

Tuscan Sculptor

Italian (Tuscan School, probably Florence or Pisa)
2nd half of the 14th century
Polychromed wood
Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

This early example of an Annunciation sculpture is difficult to attribute to one artist. At the likely time of its completion, there were a large number of anonymous wood-carving artisans who worked solely as woodworkers, were part of a carpenter’s guild, or were stone carvers who did wood pieces as a secondary trade. The Annunciation – the Biblical scene in which the Archangel Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary to tell her of her destiny to bear the Christ Child – was one of the most popular subjects in Renaissance art. In this sculpture set, Mary is shown holding her place in a book, which Renaissance era viewers would know to reference that she was said to be reading scripture when Gabriel interrupted her. Gabriel, in turn, is posed dynamically and seems to be mid-conversation with Mary. Although these sculptures are two separate figures, the anonymous artist has successfully portrayed a scene that is interactive and full of movement. 

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