Pietro di Miniato (1366-1430)
The Annunciation

Church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence

The Virgin Mary sits on a throne-like seat, as was traditional in much earlier images of the Annunciation. But late-medieval practice is reflected in the bookstand at her right and the bed in the background.

In many Annunciations Mary crosses her arms over her chest, but here it is Gabriel who makes that gesture. The crossing of the arms is thought to have suggested reserve or detachment, an effect even more strongly expressed by the wall that separates the angel from Mary.

As usual, the Holy Spirit is pictured as a dove flying toward Mary's head, but the "power of the most high" (Luke 1:35) is surprisingly pictured with a full portrait of what appears to be the Son.

On the left of the small images below is a traditionally rendered Baptism of Christ. On the right is an image of the vision of Bridget of Sweden, with St. Joseph and Bridget herself joining the Virgin Mary in the adoration of the Christ Child. In the Adoration of the Magi in the middle, the magi represent the three ages of man. The eldest of them kneels to kiss the child's toe, a detail that one does see from time to time. Above them is the star that led the magi to the child.

The date range cited above for the fresco comes from some web sites of unknown reliability. The artist's death date may be as late as 1346.

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Read more about the Annunciation, the Baptism of Jesus, the Adoration of the Magi, and the Nativity.

Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.