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The Annunciation with Prophets; the Archangel, holding a lilly, appears to the Virgin kneeling before a lectern beneath the heavens with God and the Holy Spirit and a host of angels playing instruments and a myriad of cherubs amongst the clouds; below are six prophets holding tablets including Moses and David; arched design surmounted by the meditative figures of Adam and Eve; after Federico Zuccaro (two plates)
- Production date
Height: 460 millimetres
Width: 680 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Text from Michael Bury, 'The Print in Italy 1550-1620', BM, London 2001, no.74.)
This engraved Annunciation on two plates is after a design by Federico Zuccaro originally invented for a fresco scheme in the church of Santa Maria Annunziata in Rome. It is a particularly fine achievement, with its complex composition combining narrative and allegorical elements. The heavenly vision above, through the brilliant handling of light and shade, gives the most spectacular effect of infinite space. Cort was able to give to the figures within that space an energy and variety that look forward to the achievements of the engravers of the Prague school.
Taddeo Zuccaro obtained for his younger brother Federico the commission to paint in Santa Maria Annunziata, the church of the Jesuits at the Collegio Romano in Rome. It was his first independent work in the City, and was executed in the years 1566-67 (Acidini Luchinat, I, 1998, pp.255-58). The church was dedicated on the feast of the Annunciation in 1567; but it was demolished in the seventeenth century to be replaced by the much larger S. Ignazio (Baumstark, 1997, p.474, no.148). There are no representations of the frescoes in situ. However it seems likely, as John Gere argued, that the location of the work was the main apse and its half-dome. The meditative figures of Adam and Eve would thus have been on the spandrels of the outer arch.
If this is correct then it means, as Gere argued, that the large drawing by Federico in the Louvre will have been made for the engraving, not for the frescoes (Louvre, inv. no.4539; 455 x 702 mm; pen and brown ink, brown wash, with traces of red chalk, Gere, 1969, p.47, no.51). This is very significant because it means that Federico will have been directly involved in the project of having the engraving made and will have worked out a form of presentation that would be effective in the new medium. Unfortunately in the case of the Annunciation we have no independent evidence of the appearance of the frescoes, but on the analogy of the Coronation of the Virgin (New Hollstein 100), for which Federico also provided a special drawing, we may guess that there will have been adjustments to the proportions of the elements and the intervals between the figures (Mundy, 1989, pp.192-95, no.60).
The Louvre drawing is the same way round as the engraving. This means either that a final reversed modello, now lost, was prepared for Cort to work from, or alternatively that Cort reversed the composition as part of his own procedures for transferring the design to the plates. As we know from his treatment of Sabatini's drawing of the Marriage at Cana, the latter was perfectly within his capabilities.
Antoine Perrenot, Cardinal de Granvelle (1517-1586), to whom the print was dedicated, had been sent to Italy by Philip II in 1570 to organize an anti-Turkish coalition between Spain, the Pope and the Venetians; he was then made Viceroy of Naples.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2001/2 Sep-Jan, BM, P&D, The Print in Italy 1550-1620
2002 Feb-Mar, New York, Miriam & Ira D Wallach AG, The Print in Italy
2002/3 Sep-Jan, Ottawa, NG of Canada, The Print in Italy 1550-1620
2003 Feb-Apr, Edinburgh, NG of Scotland, The Print in Italy 1550-1620
2009 Jun-Sep, New York, Mus of Biblical Art, Scripture for the Eyes
2009/10 Oct-Jan, Atlanta, Michael C Carlos Museum, Scripture for the Eyes
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- Prints and Drawings
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