‘The Annunciation’: Behind the National Gallery’s Picture of the Month in December

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The Annunciation by Fra Filippo Lippi Credit: National Gallery

The picture of the month in December at the National Gallery is Fra Filippo Lippi’s ‘The Annunciation’. A peek at this painting immediately brings you face-to-face with the prophecy of conception pronounced on the Virgin Mary by Angel Gabriel.

A vivid description of the painting depicts the Virgin Mary in a humble bow before Angel Gabriel as the latter kneels before her. ‘The Annunciation’ painting has been interpreted by a lot of artists including Leonardo da Vinci and  Andrea del Verrocchio.

However, the Leonardo da Vinci-Andrea del Verrocchio painting shows the Virgin Mary sitting confidently before the angel who is down on one knee.

According to the National Gallery’s website, Fra Filippo Lippi’s Annunciation was made for a member of the Florence ruling family, Medici. It is said to have hung in the Palazzo Medici.

“It could have been placed over the doors of Piero de’ Medici’s study – its ceiling was decorated with ceramic roundels representing the signs of the zodiac (and, therefore, the months). The Annunciation suits such a setting: its feast was celebrated on 25 March, the first day of the Florentine calendar year. Depicting Medici patron saints may have been a way to demonstrate the protection they offered to the city throughout the year,” shares the National Gallery.

Walk into the National Gallery this Christmas to view more paintings from Fra Filippo Lippi,  an Italian painter of the Quattrocento and a Carmelite priest. The paintings range from the Saint Bernard Vision of the Virgin to the Left and Right-handed Angels among others.

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