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Rare Botticelli Fresco from Uffizi Gallery in Florence on Special Loan to the Israel Museum

Sandro Botticelli, The Annunciation, 1481

Jerusalem, September 2, 2013 – This rare fresco, the first work by Botticelli to be exhibited in Israel, is on display as a special loan from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence in honor of the State of Israel’s 65th anniversary. The Annunciation, created by Sandro Botticelli in the spring of 1481, originally hung over the entrance of San Martino della Scala, a hospital for those stricken with the plague. During renovations to the hospital structure during the 17th century, the fresco suffered considerable damage, and, in 1920, it was dismantled and moved to the Uffizi, where it underwent a thorough restoration process. Despite its considerable size of 243 x 553 cm. (8 x 18 ft.), it has served as an “ambassador” of the Uffizi on prior occasions, having travelled previously to Germany and China. It is on view at the Israel Museum from September 18, 2013, through January 10, 2014.

“The Museum is deeply honored to have the privilege to display so masterful a work of the Italian Renaissance.” said James Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director. “We are also grateful for the opportunity to work with the Italy-Israel Foundation for Culture and the Arts, together with the Uffizi Gallery, to demonstrate the importance of international cultural exchange in such an appropriate and celebratory way.”

Sandro Botticelli, (born Alessandro di Moriano Filipepi, (ca. 1445-1510), was one of the greatest painters of the Florentine Renaissance. He began his training under Fra Filippo before opening his own workshop in 1470. Botticelli’s understanding of perspective, architectural design, and anatomy was exceptional, and The Annunciation offers a rare example of a composition in linear perspective created for a liturgical purpose.

The subject of the Archangel Gabriel’s visit and his words to Mary recurs throughout the history of Christian art. In Italian depictions of the Annunciation, Mary is frequently portrayed reading or embroidering in a portico or in the courtyard of her house. In the chilly Low Countries of northern Europe, she was most often depicted indoors. Although Botticelli adopts the Flemish tradition of placing the reading Virgin indoors, he also creates, in Florentine style, a fascinating interplay of indoors and outdoors, with Gabriel shown entering the porch of the house and gliding toward Mary, holding a white lily, a symbol of her virginity.

The loan of this masterpiece by one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance is the result of a collaborative effort by the Museum and the Italy-Israel Foundation for Culture and the Arts, which aims to strengthen the ties between the two countries through cultural exchange, with additional support from the Embassy of Italy in Israel, Banca Intesa Sanpaolo, Allianz, and Mana Contemporary, and with the cooperation of the Italian Cultural Institute in Tel Aviv. This presentation also inaugurates a series over the coming two years to showcase important Italian Renaissance and Baroque masterworks from major Italian institutions at the Museum. This inaugural display at the Museum is curated by Shlomit Steinberg, Hans Dichand Curator of European Art.
More about the exhibition

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