This first famous work of the young twenty-year-old Renaissance master, The Annunciation, is not yet what can be said of Da Vinci's character or style. The composition follows a centuries-old model with the angel on the left, the Virgin on the right, and a lectern in the middle; the whole is represented in an architectural framework that opens onto a landscape. The kneeling angel is magnificently youthful with her high forehead, stylized wings, rich clothing, and lily. The Virgin, surprised when reading, raises her hand in a gesture of astonishment and shows a face with fine features that some have described as cold. His pose, with his knees evenly spread and covered with ample and flexible curtains, gives him a strong monumental character.
In the play Maria sits on a paved terrace and reads at a richly decorated desk carved from marble. She shows her surprise with the visit of the young Archangel Gabriel, who explains that she will be the mother of the Son of God.
The painting shows a flourishing enclosed garden, in front of what appears to be a Renaissance palace, evoking the hortus conclusus which alludes to Mary's purity. The archangel Gabriel kneels before the Virgin and offers her a lily. The Virgin responds from her seat, behind a lectern, where she was reading. The traditional religious theme has been set by Leonardo in an earthly natural setting. The angel has a solid corporeality, suggested by his shadow on the grass, and the folds of his clothes, which seem to show studies of real life. His wings are also based on those of a powerful bird of prey.
An extraordinary twilight light shapes the scene and emphasizes the dark shapes of the trees in the far background, dominated by the mixed colors much loved by the artist. The architectural elements are drawn according to the rules of perspective, with a central vanishing point. Some anomalies can be found in the figure of the Virgin, whose right arm appears too long - perhaps a reflection of Leonardo's early research in optics, which would have taken into account a lateral point of view (from the right) - and low, due to the painting's original location, which was above a side altar in a church.
The painting was brought to the Uffizi in 1867 from the church of San Bartolomeo a Monteoliveto, outside Porta San Frediano in Florence; nothing is known about its original location or who commissioned it. The Annunciation is generally considered one of Leonardo's youthful works, painted while he was still working in Andrea del Verrocchio's studio. The master copies an invention by Verrocchio, the shape of the lectern, inspired by the tomb of Piero el Gouty in the church of San Lorenzo, Florence.
The Annunciation is ranked no. 57 on the list of famous paintings
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