This small, rich panel was originally the left side of a diptych, which, along with a right-hand panel depicting the Virgin Mary (now in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg), depicts one image of the Annunciation—the moment when the archangel Gabriel brings Mary the news that she will give birth to the Son of God.

The picture in the collection of the National Gallery of Art is marked by Simone’s characteristic refinement and elegance in the elongated, delicate figure of the angel, and the sumptuously decorated and patterned surfaces throughout. The curve of Gabriel’s wing frames his kneeling figure and echoes the curves in his halo and palm branch. Simone devised new ways to recreate the look of luxurious brocaded fabrics. After covering the panel with a layer of red clay, he gilded the entire surface (except for the hands and face). He next painted the angel's robe in delicate pinks, shadowed with darker tones to define folds and the body. Following the brocade pattern, he scraped away areas of paint to reveal the gilding below, which was then textured with tiny punches. This sgrafitto ("scratched") technique may have been inspired by Islamic ceramics decorated in a similar fashion and widely popular in Italy.


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