Piermatteo d'Amelia - The Annunciation, about 1487

Piermatteo d'Amelia (Amelia, about 1450 - 1508)

The Annunciation, about 1487

Tempera on panel, 102.4 x 114.8 cm (40 5/16 x 45 3/16 in.) panel

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Object details

Accession number

P16w4

Provenance

Franciscan convent church of Santissima Annunziata near Amelia, 1872.
Possibly donated by the former minister general of the Franciscans Bernardino Trionfetti da Montefranco to the Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli, Assisi.
On the outside wall of the Porziuncola, Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli, Assisi, 1875.
Permission to sell the altarpiece granted by Pope Leo XIII on 22 April 1880.
Purchased by Mary and Bernard Berenson (1865–1959), American art historians, from the friars of Santa Maria degli Angeli through Tito Gagliardi in November 1899 for £1,200.
Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from Colnaghi & Co., London through Bernard Berenson on 10 July 1900 for £6,000 (as by Fiorenzo di Lorenzo).

Bibliography

Catalogue. Fenway Court. (Boston, 1903), p. 12. (as Fiorenzo di Lorenzo)
Roberto Longhi. "In Favore di Antoniazzo Romano." Vita Artistica 2 (1927), pp. 226-33. (as Master of the Gardner Annuciation)
Philip Hendy. Catalogue of Exhibited Paintings and Drawings (Boston, 1931), pp. 16-19. (as Antoniazzo Romano)
Morris Carter. "Report of the Director of the Museum." Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: Annual Report (1931), pp. 24-25. (as attributed to Antoniazzo by Hendy; attributed to Melozzo da Forlì by Lionello Venturi)
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), pp. 105-6. (as possibly by Antoniazzo Romano)
Stuart Preston. "The Annunciation" in Alfred M. Frankfurter (ed.). The Gardner Collection (New York, 1946), p. 18. (as Antoniazzo Romano, 1481)
Morris Carter. "Mrs. Gardner & The Treasures of Fenway Court" in Alfred M. Frankfurter (ed.). The Gardner Collection (New York, 1946), p. 60.
Sylvia Sprigge. Berenson, a Biography (Boston, 1960), pp. 183-85. (as Antoniazzo Romano)
William N. Mason. “Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 6, no. 34 (21 Apr. 1963), p. 2. (as Antoniazzo Romano)
Arthur Pope. “Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 7, no. 37 (10 May 1964), p. 2.
Arthur Pope. “Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 7, no. 38 (17 May 1964), p. 2.
“Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 9, no. 37 (15 May 1966), p. 2. (excerpting Sylvia Sprigge, pp. 183-85)
George L. Stout. Treasures from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1969), pp. 126-27. (as Antoniazzo Romano, 1480)
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), pp. 6-8. (as attributed to Antoniazzo Romano)
Luciano Canonici. "L'Annunciazione Gardner alla Porziuncola" in Archivum franciscanum historicum, vol. 71 (1978), pp. 459-62.
David Alan Brown. "Berenson and Mrs. Gardner: the Connoisseur, the Collector and the Photograph." Fenway Court (1978), pp. 24-29.
Ernest Samuels. Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur (Cambridge, 1979), pp. 252-53.
Rollin van N. Hadley. Museums Discovered: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1981), pp. 44-45. (as Master of the Gardner Annuciation, Umbrian, about 1480)
Barbara Strachey and Jayne Samuels (eds.). Mary Berenson: A Self-Portrait from her Letters and Diaries (New York, 1983), pp. 84-86.
Frederico Zeri. "Pier Matteo d'Amelia e gli Umbria a Roma" in Dall'Albornoz all'etá dei Borgia (Amelia, 1987), pp. 17-40. (as Piermatteo d'Amelia)
Michael Bury. "Bartolomeo Caporali: a new document and its implications." Burlington Magazine 132, no. 1048 (July 1990), p. 474, n. 34.
Monica Castrichini. "Piermatteo d'Amelia: Catalogo delle Opere" in Leonilde Dominici. Piermatteo d'Amelia. Pittura in Umbria medionale fra '300 e '500 (Perugia, 1996), pp. 134-37, no. 3, figs. 96-100. (as Piermatteo d'Amelia)
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), pp. 62-63. (as Piermatteo d'Amelia)
Cynthia Saltzman. Old Masters, New World: America’s Raid on Europe’s Great Pictures (New York: Penguin Books, 2008), pp. 85-87.
Fabio Marcelli. "Piermatteo lavora tantissimo" in Piermatteo d'Amelia e il Rinascimento nell'Umbria meridionale (Milano, 2009), pp. 36-55. (as Piermatteo d'Amelia)
Elisabetta David and Emilio Lucci. "Piermatteo d'Amelia: note d'archivio" in Piermatteo d'Amelia e il Rinascimento nell'Umbria meridionale (Milano, 2009), pp. 57-63. (as Piermatteo d'Amelia, after 22 January 1487, following the enlargement of the apse of SS Annunziata)
Francis Russell. Review of Piermatteo d'Amelia e il Rinascimento nell'Umbria meridionale. Burlington Magazine152, no. 1286 (May 2010), pp. 349-50. (as Piermatteo d'Amelia, demonstrating the painter's experience in Verrocchio's studio)
Sandro Barbagallo. L'Annunciazione nell' Arte: Iconologia e iconografia del Rimorso e della Redenzione (Vatican City, 2013), pp. 39, 80, no. 16.
Charles H. Carman. Leon Battista Alberti and Nicholas Cusanus: Towards an Epistemology of Vision for Italian Renaissance Art and Culture (Surrey: Ashgate, 2014), pp. 121-122, fig. 5.3.
Carl Brandon Strehlke and Machtelt Brüggen Israëls et al. The Bernard and Mary Berenson Collection of European Paintings at Villa I Tatti (Milan, 2015), pp. 59, 640-42, fig. IV.4.
Matteo Mazzalupi. "d'Amelia, Piermatteo." Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani 83 (2015), accessed 5/16/2016. www.treccani.it (as Piermatteo d'Amelia, after 22 January 1487, following the cautious proposal of David-Lucci)
Nathaniel Silver. Close Up: Piermatteo d'Amelia's Annunciation. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2017), pp. 1-59, figs. 1-3, 7-8, 14, 16, 21, 28, ill.


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Commentary

The subject of the Archangel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary to say she will bear the son of God was often depicted in dramatic and innovative architectural settings, both in Italy and in the Netherlands during the Renaissance. Here, the sweeping recession to the central doorway is the unifying element of the composition. The perspective lines on the floor divide the figures and focus attention on the hilly landscape beyond.

Like many Italian Renaissance painters, Piermatteo d’Amelia was concerned with the principles of optical perspective. However, the painting is neither formulaic nor rigidly symmetrical. The architecture varies significantly from left to right, the open courtyard giving way to an arcade, as if to embody the Virgin’s motherly embrace. In the center, a spray of lilies and the dove connect the archangel with the Virgin.

The painting was made for the main altar of the Franciscan church in Amelia, a small town in Umbria near Spoleto. Since 1900, the painting has borne many different attributions, and was long known simply as the work of the Master of the Gardner Annunciation, but documents now indicate that the artist is Piermatteo d’Amelia, a pupil and assistant of Filippo Lippi.

Source: Alan Chong, "The Annunciation," in Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 63.