Study for an Annunciation

WAG 1995.205


The 'Bonesi' attribution on the mount is by William Roscoe. Popham suggested instead Palma Giovane. This drawing is probably an unfinished design for the main altarpiece of the cathedral in the town of Salò, on Lake Garda in northern Italy, which Palma Giovane signed and dated 1628, but which was commissioned in 1609. The partial squaring of the drawing, used in the process of enlarging the design to the finished painting, suggests that it is one of the original studies (modelli) requested in 1609 by the cathedral authorities for their approval. The completed painting, part of an altarpiece, shows modifications of the drawing, with the addition of God in the heavens and changes both to the background and the unusually demure pose of Archangel Gabriel (eyes lowered and arms crossed over the chest) to a more traditional pose, holding a lily out to Mary while blessing her. This pose was usually associated with Mary as a sign of her obedience and humility. Here she takes on a more active role. It has previously been suggested (in 1977) that the drawing might be a study for an altarpiece dated 1615, in the Venetian church of San Nicolò Tolentino, in which Gabriel has his back to the viewer and the background shows a landscape rather than a streetscape.