The Annunciation by Simone Martini (circa 1333) was made with the help of Lippo Memmi for the Sant’Ansano altar in the Duomo of Siena. In 1979, it was moved to the Uffizi in Florence. It is located in the International Gothic Room and is an important example of this period of art history.
The Annunciation is one of the most widely painted themes in Christian iconography. The scene is based on a book from the Gospel of Luke. The Archangel Gabriel goes to the Virgin Mary to announce that she has been chosen as the Mother of God. In that precise moment, the Virgin Mary is reading, and the angel had caught her by surprise. However, soon thereafter, she accepts to give birth to Jesus Christ. There are several iconographical elements that reappear: the presence of fleur-de-lis (symbol of the virginity of Mary), the white dove (symbol of the Holy Spirit) and the book (symbolizing the spiritual value of Mary).
All of these elements are present in Martini’s version, however he does include novelties in the painting. He adds an atmosphere reminiscent of the royal court, giving an almost profane sense to the scene. Martini depicts the Virgin Mary in the exact moment that she is perplexed after the announcement made by Gabriel. Moreover, she a very realistic, earthly and seductive woman, who looks more like a grand dame than the Virgin Mary. There is not much space in the scene either. The spatial limit posed by Martini gives the scene a more intimate feeling. The movements of the Virgin Mary are simultaneous, giving her an extraordinary, naturalistic look.