Analysis Of Annunciation And Expulsion From Paradise By Giovanni Di Paolo

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Analysis Of Annunciation And Expulsion From Paradise By Giovanni Di Paolo


Location of the Painting

The Annunciation and Expulsion from Paradise was painted by Giovanni Di Paolo in Siena, Italy in 1945. It is now available for viewing in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. in the United States of America. The Museum is located in the National Mall. It has been in operation since the year 1937. The National Gallery of Art was established by the US Congress with the help of patrons of the art such as Andrew W. Mellon. The art museum holds more than 2000 paintings, pieces of decorative art, sculptures, and porcelains from different historical periods. Among them is Giovanni Di Paolo’s Annunciation and Expulsion from Paradise, which is available for public viewing in the museum. The National Gallery of Art also loans the work to other museums and exhibitions worldwide. The painting’s medium is tempera on panel and it measures 38.7 by 44.7 cm. The Annunciation and Expulsion from Paradise is one of the most famous paintings by Giovanni Di Paolo owned by the National Art Gallery. The artist painted it when he was approximately 37 years of age.

Exhibition History

The painting’s history traces back to ownership by Sir John Charles Robison from London. He sold it to Christies, Marine and Woods from the same city in 1902. Other owners of the painting later include Charles Fairfax Murray, Evelyn Holford Benson and Robert Henry, all from London. The painting moved to the United States of America in 1936, being sold to the Samuel Kress Foundation from the Duveen Brothers Collection. It became the property of the National Art Gallery’s after the latter was established. The painting was in a number of exhibitions in the past century. In 1904, it was at School of Siena’s Exhibition of Pictures. It was also item number 30 in the Burlington Fine Arts Club, London. It was known as The Annunciation in both exhibitions. In 1910, it was presented in the Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters’. It was also in the Royal Academy of Arts’ Winter Exhibition in London the same year presented under the name The Annunciation as painting number 1. The painting was later loaned out to the Benson Collection of Old Italian Pieces in Manchester’s City Art Gallery in 1927 as item number 100. Currently, the painting is on display at the National Art Gallery in Washington, D.C.

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Explanation of Altarpiece

According to experts in Italian Renaissance art, the Annunciation and Expulsion from Paradise is one of the five predella panels in the lower portions of the Sienese altarpiece that is large and unidentified. The painting’s center depicts the Angel Gabriel announcing the birth of Jesus Christ to the Virgin Mary. The annunciation takes place near a Gothic Italian house. There is a flower garden outside a house, which shows that the annunciation occurred during the spring season. The painting’s landscape on the left side shows the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden after eating the forbidden fruit. There is also a celestial area in the top-left corner of the painting, which represents God. It provides the connection between the expulsion and the annunciation. The altarpiece is a representation of the exile from the Eden, showing the origin of sin as well as the anticipation of redemption from sin through the annunciation of the birth of Christ. The right side of the painting shows Joseph, Mary’s husband, sitting close to the fire warming his hands, showing that Jesus’ birth is to be in winter. Giovanni di Paolo employs a rather modern style of painting using tiles and decorations in the house and different colors.

Other Paintings

Other paintings by Italian Renaissance artists between the 14th and the 15th centuries include the Madonna of Humility by Fra Angelico, the Virgin Annunciate by Antonello da Messina, the Crucifixion by Fra Angelico, the Presentation at the Temple by Giovanni Bellini and the Adoration by the Magi by Sandro Botticelli. The paintings represent important events in Christian history.

Symbolic Meanings of the Painting Annunciation and Expulsion from Paradise

Significant Facts about the Painting

The painting depicts the fall of mankind as well as the redemption through Jesus Christ. The left-hand side has flowers, rabbits and angel as well as a celestial area showing the expulsion from paradise. The middle part has the Archangel delivering the message to the Virgin Mary and the right side depicts Joseph warming his hands close to the fire. The painting shows important events that are the basis of Christian history. The painting was created by Giovanni di Paolo when he was studying to become a priest in Siena . He used a unique style combining both the contemporary and medieval symbols, a technique that was  later adopted by other artists. The Annunciation and Expulsion from Paradise was painted in the late 14th century. However, its appreciation was witnessed in the 20th century after public viewing at several exhibitions. It is a representation of different chapters of the Bible all in one symbolic language.

Symbols for Rabbits, Flowers and the Garden

The right-hand side of the painting has flowers and rabbits similar to those outside the house. The use of the flowers and the garden outside the house is symbolic and represents Mary’s purity and virginity. The artist uses the symbols to represent what would have been impossible to paint explicitly, Mary’s spiritual and physical purity. Di Paolo also uses the symbols of flowers to represent Paradise, the Garden of Eden. The symbols show the relationship between Mary’s attributes and the impact she makes on the redemption of Christians. In ancient Italian poetry and art, rabbits and flowers represent the manifestation of love on earth. Rabbits are also associated with fertility, a symbol that is used to show Eve and Mary’s fertility to bring forth the Messiah. The symbols represent a journey of the redemption. The flowers on the painting are differentiated and detailed. The flowers in the Garden of Eden are similar in size and color to those in front of Mary’s house. They are used symbolically to show that there is an underlying relationship between the expulsion and the annunciation. The flowers and rabbits in the garden represent Paradise, showing the life of mankind before the expulsion from Eden. During the Renaissance period, Italian artists painted nature to give earthly manifestation of paradise virtues such as purity and love. Giovanni di Paolo uses similar style symbolically to refer to the Biblical story of sin and redemption.

Symbols for Burning Fire and Smoke with Joseph

On the right-hand side of the painting, Joseph is seen warming his hands by the fire. Joseph’s appearance on the painting sitting close to the fire symbolizes his role in the birth of Jesus. He will act as the guardian of the unborn child in the future, thus the Angel does not involve him in the annunciation. As the flowers are blooming in the garden, it is evident that it is the spring season. The right-hand side of the painting shows what will happen in during the birth of Jesus. The act of warming his hands shows that the birth will take place in winter. The painting shows a journey of Adam and Eve to the Virgin Mary and later Joseph’s involvement. The smoke rising in the sky shows God’s presence during the annunciation. In the Bible accounts, smoke rising to the sky when burning sacrifices symbolizes God’s acceptance of the sacrifices. The fact that the smoke of the fire close to Joseph rises straight to the sky shows the divinity of the annunciation. Theology experts have also argued whether Joseph’s act of sitting by the fire to warm himself shows human redemption from sin. Joseph represents the general human society on the painting while the fire represents the warmth of redemption after the birth of Jesus Christ. It depicts warm flames of hope and charity invoking the image of sinful winter, replaced by the spring of Grace through the birth of the Messiah.

Three Different Stories in One Painting

There are three different stories in one painting. The story on the left side shows expulsion from the Garden of Eden. It shows how God sent the Angel Gabriel to prevent Adam and Eve from re-entering the garden after eating the forbidden fruit. The second story is the annunciation of Jesus’ birth by the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin. The story is in the center of the picture showing its significance to Christian History. God sent his Archangel to announce that a child would be conceived by a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit. The third story in the painting shows Joseph warming his hands by the fire. It represents his minor role in the annunciation story as well as the seasonal changes during Jesus’ birth. 

The Message behind the Three Stories in One Painting

The use of several stories in one painting is not coincidental. There is a relationship between expulsion and annunciation evident from the Bible. According to the accounts in Genesis, the sin became an attribute of mankind when Adam and Eve disregarded God’s command and ate the forbidden fruit. However, God assured them that he would not abandon mankind but would send a Messiah to redeem their descendants from sin. The annunciation shows that He kept his promise sending His only son Jesus Christ. The annunciation shows the Angel delivering the message to the Virgin Mary. The story on the right side shows Joseph sitting by the fire. It is a representation of mankind’s redemption after the birth of Jesus Christ. The painting also has a celestial area in the top left corner, which represents God, as He was overseeing the world during the events. He expelled Adam and Eve from the garden, sent his Angel to announce the birth of the son and thus redeemed mankind from sin.

Styles of the Painting

Architectural Structure

The artist used specific architectural structure to symbolize different facts from the period as well as the stories on the painting. The construction has a linear structure. It is evident in the floor of the house that extends towards the Angel Gabriel’s head. The house has a roof, the dimensions of which are not clear, and there are orthogonal structures radiating off the house’s surfaces that do not fully match up. The artist also utilizes depth, especially behind the scene of annunciation and inside the house. A nuptial chamber down the narrow hallway that represents Mary’s virgin state can be seen behind her. The Angel is standing in a canopied room. Joseph is in the other part of the house warming his hands by the fire, which shows his minor role in the annunciation scene. The artists also use architectural details in the floor tiling and ceiling. The materials are shiny, showing metals such as gold and cobalt as well as marble. Di Paolo also uses gothic architecture evident in the roof’s inverted arch pediments, which are famous gothic decorations. The ceiling in the front part of the house has trefoils. The expulsion scene has the natural setting of a garden. The meaning of the scenes is derived from the symbols and the environment, rather than the drama of interacting figures. 

Clothing and Its Colors

The painting has patterns and brilliant colors showing that its style is connected with Siena. The artist’s imagination is reflected in the use of colors to represent spiritual and natural events. The halos that are above Mary and the Angel and the celestial area are painted in bright golden color to show purity and divinity. The painting also emphasizes on drama by use of contrasting colors, dark backgrounds, unreal proportions and nervous color patterns. To depict annunciation, the artist uses colors to show a jewel-like house, which shows the purity and perfection of Joseph’s family. The clothes also represent the Renaissance period when the annunciation occurred.

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Similarities with Fra Angelico’s The Annunciation

Brief Explanation of the Painting

Fra Angelico’s The Annunciation has scenes that are similar to Giovanni di Paolo’s the Annunciation and Expulsion from Paradise. The painting shows Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden on the right side. The Angel Gabriel is also seen in the background as he expels the couple from the green fertile garden. The garden’s fertility is represented by the fruits and green plants. The rest of the painting shows the Archangel delivering the message to the Virgin Mary. The Angel bends as he delivers the message. The house’s architecture, color and clothing show some similarity to those of di Paolo’s painting. The Angel delivers the message outside the house and a flower garden, similar to those in di Paolo’s painting. However, the painting differs from that of di Paolo. It does not include Joseph during the annunciation. Adam and Eve are clothed. There are no animals in the expulsion, and the Angel Gabriel seems to be levitating. Fra Angelico’s painting also shows the presence of the Holy Spirit during the annunciation. It is written in the Bible that Virgin Mary was filled with the Holy Spirit, which is represented with a golden color of the celestial area.

Why Artists Commonly Used These Scene in Their Paintings

To describe the annunciation, artists commonly used the scenes similar to those of Fra Angelico and di Paolo’s paintings. The reason was that the scenes gave an overall representation of the redemption story in one painting. Both works describe the story of expulsion and redemption using colors, symbols and the environment. They show the time difference between the two events by altering the background, colors and clothes. They also show purity and divinity using halos and golden colors. The two scenes represent one of the most significant events in Christian history using facts from medieval and Renaissance periods.

Angelico’s Cortana Altarpiece

The Annunciation of Cortona was created by Fra Angelico in 1434. It is similar to the Annunciation and Expulsion from Paradise and the Annunciation only in terms of the events during annunciation. It lacks the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. It also lacks a scene with Joseph observed in Di Paolo’s painting. In the Annunciation of Cortona, the Angel Gabriel is kneeling in front of Mary when announcing the birth of Jesus Christ. The use of architecture and colors is similar to that of the other two paintings. However, the painting does not represent God or the Holy Spirit through a celestial area. A flower garden is visible in the background of the Annunciation of Cortana, similarly to the other paintings.