100 Great Paintings - Duccio to Picasso by Dillian Gordon

By Dillian Gordon

. lge fmt, 1981 illus, 2223pp

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His painting of The Annunciation came originally from the Palazzo Riccardi, which used to Fra Filippo Lippi, a Carmelite friar at Santa Maria del belong to the Medici family, and has the Medici device of three feathers within a ring painted in grisaille on the stone parapet. It may be that the theme o{ The Annunciation was chosen because of the expected birth of a child, perhaps the future Lorenzo the Magnificent, who was born in 1449. It was probably painted to hang over a doorway together with a similar panel with Seven Saints, now also in the National Gallery.

Indeed, this altarpiece is more like a drawing than a painting. Apart from the graceful golden lining and the subdued blues of the Virgins robe, and the more translucent blues of the sky and pools, the picture is devoid of colour. The almost monochromatic forms are modelled with a soft sfumato (from the Italian, meaning 'smoked'): in his notebooks, Leonardo wrote that light and shade should blend 'without lines or borders, in the manner of smoke'. such a 48 restless 4g Italian School LEONARDO da Vinci Cartoon: The with St.

His 41 Italian School Antonio and Picro del c. 1 POLLAIUOLO 44 1 to not later The Martyrdom of St. 025 This altarpiece was painted for the Oratory of San Sebastiano attached to the church or the Santissima Annunziata in Florence, and was commis- probably in 1475. The suffering of St. Sebastian, a Roman soldier martyred by arrows in the 3rd century during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian, became a popular subject in Italian painting during the 15th century, both because St. Sebastian was invoked as a protector against the plague (popularly seen as arrows of wrath inflicted by God), and because it offered an opportunity for the depiction of human anatomy.

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