March 25 is the Feast of the Annunciation, a biblical event that features heavily in Italian art.
One of my favorite representations of the Annunciation comes from Simone Martini who painted this work in 1333.
The painting, of tempura and gold on wood, was originally commissioned for the Duomo in Siena. Martini’s “Annunciation with St. Margaret and St. Ansanus” is now in the Uffizi in Florence.
The lapis lazuli (blue pigment) on Mary’s robe was one of the earlier uses of this rare and costly material. It was also a preview of the heavier use of this hue in Renaissance art as increased trade with the east made lapis more obtainable.