Federico Barocci

The Annunciation

The Annunciation by Federico Barocci

Artwork Detail

In scenes of the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel either kneels or stands before the Virgin, who reacts to his announcement that she will bear the child of God in several ways. These can include surprise, apprehension, retrospection and humility. Here Mary has risen slightly from her prie dieu or prayer stool, but the feeling we derive is that she has not yet agreed to take on this momentous task. The view through the window shows the Ducal Palace at Urbino on the right, a detail that is included in many of Barocci’s paintings indicating his place of birth but also where he received many of his commissions. Its presence also suggests that miracles may occur in the Italian countryside.

The original painting by Barocci, and possibly the print, was commissioned by the Duke of Urbino in 1582 for the ducal chapel in the basilica at Loreto, where it was installed in 1584, although it was removed to the Vatican Gallery in the 18th century, and replaced by a mosaic copy. The inclusion of a sleeping cat on the stool in the foreground, along with the deep sculptural folds of Gabriel’s drapery, suggests that Barocci is also familiar with earlier northern printmakers such as Dürer. The Annunciation has been described as the most beautiful and well known of Barocci’s prints. He only made four etchings, between 1580 and 1585, but his wonderful ability to suggest a wide tonal range added a ‘painterly’ quality to them. They became very influential on other artists at the time.

The Annunciation
Federico Barocci
Production date
etching and engraving
435 x 308 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Peter Tomory Collection, purchased 2010
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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