Tuscany : The Annunciation by Simone Martini
Simone Martini's Annunciation, painted in 1333 for the Cathedral of Siena is one of his most famous works. One of the highlights of the altarpiece is the Latin inscription of the Ave Maria prayer that flow from the mouth of the angel Gabriel on their way to the Virgin Mary. This feature is part of a communicative tradition that serves to enhance Martini's message. Simone's Annunciation represents a new way of depicting Mary in this scene, she cowers away from Gabriel in a gesture of uncertainty and fear. This representation of the Virgin by Martini ushers in a new wave of paintings during this time that depcit Mary in a similar way. This altarpiece was commissioned in a set of four pieces for the Cathedral of Siena, dedicated to the cities patron saints. The Annunciation resided in the Cathedral until 1799, it was then moved to Florence where it is now held in the Uffizi Gallery. Although this altarpiece predates the 1348 outbreak of the plague, it is nevertheless a religious image that reflects the ways in which Sienese society viewed the word of God, which they connected very strongly with the Black Death later on.