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The Invisible Presence: Cut-In, Close-Up, and Off-Scene in Antonello da Messina's Palermo Annunciate Author(s): Lorenzo Pericolo Source:

Representations, Vol. 107, No. 1 (Summer 2009), pp. 1-29 Published by: University of California Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/rep.2009.107.1.1 . Accessed: 25/09/2013 04:58
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LORENZO PERICOLO

The Invisible Presence: Cut-In, Close-Up, and Off-Scene in Antonello da Messinas Palermo Annunciate
For Charles Dempsey The importance of comparing the study of painting, say, to that of television, or advertising, lies in understanding the different ways in which scholars and critics make meaning from each medium. The insights obtained by the heuristic strategies practiced in the study of one may well enrich the procedures used in the interpretation of another.1 Many great pictures are a bit illegitimate.2

Icons and Narratives Whether in Italy or in Flanders, fifteenth-century painters stretched the possibilities of pictorial narration to an extent unimaginable to their late medieval predecessors. Decade after decade, unwonted framings and compositional devices arose, thrived, and soon morphed again at a frantic pace, radically modifying the viewers perception of the time, space, and drama involved in sacred images. Of course, this artistic phenomenon has not gone unnoticed by art historians: after Erwin Panofsky, Sixten Ringbom outlined its emergence and evolution in a seminal book, whose title epitomizes the essence and scope of this epochal transformation: From Icon to Narrative (1965).3 Predictably, Ringboms work gave rise to numerous other essays in which the differences and diverse interplay of iconicity and narrative in religious images from the early Christian period through the fifteenth century were investigated, discussed, and substantiated. In this regard, Hans Beltings viewpoints have exerted a well-deserved influence. In an admirable book, Das Bild und sein Publikum im Mittelalter (1981), Belting rightly argued for a subtler distinction between the liturgical, contemplative, devotional, and narrative functions of sacred images.4 Not only did
A B S T R A C T Antonello da Messinas Palermo Annunciate (c. 1475) is usually construed as the equivalent

of an icon. Relying on the iconography of the fifteenth-century Flemish Annunciation, Lorenzo Pericolo demonstrates that Antonellos panel must rather be interpreted as a truncated narrative in the form of an icon. From this premise, Pericolo also unveils the experimental charge of some pictorial devices used by Antonello, such as close-up, cut-in, and off-scene. / R E P R E S E N T A T I O N S 107. Summer 2009 The Regents of the University of California. ISSN 07346018, electronic ISSN 1533855X, pages 129. All rights reserved. Direct requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content to the University of California Press at http://www.ucpressjournals.com/reprintinfo.asp. DOI:10.1525/ rep.2009.107.1.1.

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he demonstrate that religious paintings can fulfill multiple tasks simultaneously, but he also pointed out that the ritual, meditative form of the Byzantine icon was interpreted and developed by Western artists in multifarious ways: originally the almost invariable archetype of a holy figure, it was usually inflected with dramatic and narrative nuances and endowed with visual, symbolic, and theological values. Beltings observations make one aware that, whatever the configuration of a fifteenth-century sacred image may be, one must always wonder what functions it was meant to fulfill before being labeled and defined as an icon, an Andachstbild, or a biblical or hagiographical story. Probably enthralled by formal issues couched in the history and notion of icon, art historians have paid less, if any, attention to the disruptive consequences introduced by the increasing contamination of devotional and narrative formulas in the conception of sacred images at the outset of the fifteenth century. To be sure, innovative schemes of pictorial narrationfor instance Ringboms dramatic close-ups as practiced by Flemish and Italian painterswere destined to alter and enhance the viewers devotional practices. Yet at the same time, these innovations must also have put pressure on the mechanisms of reconfiguration through which beholders decoded and mentally re-enacted painted stories. In other words, by changing the devices of pictorial narration in religious paintings, artists inevitably discarded the normative perception not only of the dramatic plot and its devotional implications but also of its temporality and spatiality. Therefore, a whole range of until then unforeseen narrative techniques and effects became the object of artistic experimentation. Subsequently, some of these experiments turned into well-recognized norms and patterns: those of the dramatic close-up, for instance. Othersmaybe too audacious for their timeremained unique and testify to the many potentialities inherent in the creation of pictorial narratives in the early modern period. In my opinion, this is the case of Antonello da Messinas Palermo Annunciate. The singularity of Antonellos picture has been much celebrated, but seldom for the right reasons. As a general rule, the Palermo Annunciate has been construed as an early modern equivalent of a Byzantine icon, or at best as a truncated version of an Italian Annunciation. Although Antonellos familiarity with contemporary Flemish painting has been acknowledged from Giorgio Vasari onward (1550 and 1568), art historians continue either to downplay its importance, or sometimesalthough rarelyto disregard it altogether.5 As a result, Vasaris account of Antonellos sojourn in Flanders has been deemed a mere invention, even if no evidence has been found to refute it. This is probably why Antonellos Annunciate has always been examined in the light of the Italian early modern iconography of the Annunciation. Since in that tradition the angel systematically faces the Virgin (even at 2
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the expense of her body, sometimes bent to the point of contortion), it has been assumed that Antonellos Madonna addresses the divine messenger in front of her, whichas I will explain shortlydoes not make sense, and even contradicts the pictures general layout. To understand Antonellos Annunciate, it is thus necessary to read it within the purview not of the Italian, but of the Flemish Annunciation. Only on this condition can one seize the boldness of its invention, involving techniques of close-up, cut-in, and off-scene absolutely extraordinary for the quattrocento. In a certain sense, Antonello here tests visual effects that a twenty-first century beholder would still consider operative and compelling. The Suspense Close-Up Perhaps unknowingly, moviegoers and video-game players are familiar with what can be defined as the suspense close-up:6 facing the camera, the hero or heroine moves toward us, possibly in silence, looking for a hostile presence, invisible but sensed as lurking in an area contiguous to our own. By zooming in to frame the figures head or bust, the camera engenders a sort of blindness in the viewer: as the visual field narrows, space closes up perilously. As a standard device, this close framing can be developed in innumerable ways: the soundtrack may or may not reach its climax at the same time, or the camera may dwell on or spin around the close-up view. The undetectable foe could sneak up on the presumed victim from a farther, opposite spot, or turn out to be friendly, or even prove wholly imaginary, as, for instance, in many sequences of Alejandro Amenbars 2001 The Others. In sum, movie directors and video-game designers play with the audiences expectations; they cash in on the beholders habit of associating this kind of conventional close-up with a situation of uncertainty, danger, and anxiety. To my knowledge, there is no particular study devoted to the history of the suspense close-up in movies. In a brief informal survey, I came across an early example of this cinematic device: a sequence from D. W. Griffiths 1912 The Musketeers of Pig Alley. At a certain point in the brief plot, the Snapper Kid (Elsmer Booth), the leader of the Musketeers, along with his companions, stalks the members of a rival gang who have just left the scene. They skulk along a wall to the right, silently, one after the other, until their chiefs face occupies the right half of the frame. The gangster remains immobile, face to face with us, his hat brim tilted in balance, while his eyes slowly scan our space, from left to right, as though he fears or anticipates an ambush of his enemies from off-scene (fig. 1). The shot lasts but a few seconds. Nevertheless, time seems to drag on, dilated by expectation.7
The Invisible Presence

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FIGURE 1. Elsmer Booth (The Snapper Kid) and Harry Carey (Snappers Sidekick) in a sequence of D. W. Griffiths The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912).

I do not think that Griffith was inspired by ancient pictures, and, as a general rule, I tend to make a clear distinction between movies and paintings. Because the differences of mediums, technologies, and historical circumstances are considerable, it would be inappropriate to compare a Renaissance image (still by definition) with an early twentieth-century movie sequence. However, I believe that some of the latters technical devices, albeit historically unrelated, find their equivalents in the former. The reason is simple: anthropologically speaking, the procedures of visual invention may unfold in an analogous manner. Therefore, it is possible to discern cases of cut-in, off-scene, and suspense close-up in Renaissance painting. Antonellos Annunciate in Palermo (fig. 2) provides a paradigmatic, albeit exceptional, example of this phenomenon.8 No source prior to the nineteenth century seems to mention the painting. A late fifteenth or early sixteenth-century copy of the Palermo Annunciate (fig. 3), now in Venice (Gallerie dellAccademia), allows us to establish two essential facts: the subject and the autography of the panel. In fact, it bears a spurious signature (ANTONELLVS MESANIVS PINSIT), and the Virgin is crowned with an aureole, a feature that is absent in the original.9 Albeit a latter insertion, the false inscription confirms that the composition was ascribed to Antonello at an early date. Moreover, the aureole indicates that the woman portrayed in the picture has always been identified with the Virgin. Her identity is corroborated not only by her blue veil and the open book on the lectern nearbycommon attributes of the Madonna in the Annunciation but also by the existence of a second Annunciate by Antonello himself (Alte Pinakothek, Munich), supplied with the canonical dove and aureole. With the subject of the Palermo painting verified, it is legitimate to conjecture that Antonello edited the traditional setting of the early fifteenthcentury Flemish Annunciation by removing the bedroom stage and the angel behind Mary.10 Consequently, he focused on the Virgins face, retaining 4
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FIGURE

2. Antonello da Messina, The Virgin Annunciate, Galleria Nationale della Sicilia, Palazzo Abatellis, Palermo. Photo: Scala/Art Resource, NY.

only the lectern with the open Bible on it. Having shifted Gabriels figure off-scenethe divine herald, according to Marys gesture, has just glided into the chamberAntonello created the equivalent of a suspense closeup. Feeling an extraneous presence behind her, alerted by the salutation, the Annunciate reacts with circumspection and disquiet to her visitor, invisible to both her and the viewer.11 Hence, the Virgin turns her gaze to her right, still but anxious, to find out whose voice and presence close in on her. She is about to raise her hand in greeting, yet she pinches her veil on her breast, as if shielding herself from a potentially unwanted or intrusive stranger.12
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FIGURE

3. Anonymous painter after Antonello da Messina, The Virgin Annunciate, Gallerie dellAccademia, Venice. Photo: Cameraphoto Arte, Venice/Art Resource, NY.

Point by point, I will attempt to elucidate both the importance of Antonellos picture in the history of narrative painting and the unmatched ingenuity of its invention. So beautifully disruptive, in my opinion, is its blend of hieratic iconicity and nearly anecdotal narration that Antonellos feat was unparalleled among his contemporaries and successors. Andrea Mantegnas close-up figure of Christ in Correggio (dated 1493), albeit caught in the middle of an imperceptibly nervous action, does not relate to any narrative context, and hence it reads more as a contemplative image.13 Even Antonellos own second Annunciate (if it was actually executed slightly after the Palermo panelas sustained by some scholars) does not live up to its precedent, despite its many qualities and experimental characteristics (fig. 4).14 I can think of but one single case that seems to prefigure the Palermo picture by inaugurating technical devices like close-up and off-scene: Paolo Uccellos Madonna with Child in Dublin (National Gallery of Ireland), executed circa 143135 (fig. 5).15 In this little panel, Paolo plays with perspective and illusionism in an exceptional manner. Using the frame as a window through which Mary 6
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FIGURE

4. Antonello da Messina, The Virgin Annunciate, Alte Pinakothek, Munich. Photo: Scala/Art Resource, NY.

appears slightly above the beholders eye-level, her head covered with the Florentine mazzocchio, crowned with a disc in the guise of an aureole, and inscribed within a shell-decorated niche, Paolo makes the Child lean outward, beyond the pictorial surface. One knee resting on the parapet, he puts his left foot outside, as if willing to jump across the frame to join the light pouring in from off-scene, to which he also turns his arms and gaze. More interestingly, the Virgin, posing majestically at the center of the panel, tries to restrain the Son from falling off the parapet, steering her eyes toward the unexpected visitor: the paternal sunshine whose arrival is obviously welcomed by Jesus sudden and joyous reaction. An extensive interpretation of Paolos panel would necessitate much more attention than I can afford here. I therefore will content myself by signaling that the image must be construed as a witty elaboration upon the traditional iconography of the Virgin with Child as practiced in quattrocento Florence. In other words, Paolo resorted to a close-up view of an early fifteenth-century Florentine Madonna, animating the image through the irruption of an off-scene figure (or entity): the divine light entering the frame without warning. It is noteworthy that Paolo,
The Invisible Presence

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FIGURE

5. Paolo Uccello, The Virgin and Child, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin. Photo: National Gallery of Ireland.

like Antonello later on, finds a felicitous compromise between iconicity and narrative: the almost immobility of Marys face revolving quietly to the right, her gaze rushing toward the intruder, proves the point. Unlike Paolo, Antonello literally creates an effect of suspense. He also intensifies the ambivalence of the scene, rendering the subject of his panel ambiguous. In the end, the Dublin painting can still be easily identified as a Virgin with the Child, whereas Antonellos Mary at first glance might not be recognized as an Annunciate and instead be mistaken for a portrait. Of course, there is no way to ascertain whether or not Antonello knew Paolos painting. On the other hand, it is clear to me that the Palermo painting is much more indebted to the Flemish than to the Florentine pictorial tradition.16 Examining the Annunciate will thus provide an opportunity to inquire also into the mechanisms of narrative invention specific to early modern Flemish painters, mechanisms that obviously differ from the practices of the late Middle Ages and thereby mark the emergence of innovative techniques of narration. As I shall explain, Rogier van der Weydens or Antonellos imagination somehow functioned cinematographically, freezing 8
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significant, unprecedented sequences from the ongoing action of an early Netherlandish standard Annunciation. As with many other works by Antonello, there is no certainty as to the dating of the Annunciate. In concordance with most scholars, I would place it in around 1475, at the beginning ofor shortly beforeAntonellos sojourn in Venice, which could explain its influence on Giovanni Bellinis S. Giobbe altarpiece. I will return to this point further on. The absence of the angel in relation to the Virgin of the Annunciation has intrigued some scholars, especially Federico Zeri. In 1958, he postulated that both Annunciates, in Palermo and Munich, possessed a lost pendant depicting the figure of the announcing Gabriel. More important, he justified his statement by dismissing the possibility that a quattrocento picture or piece of literature could represent only one of the terms involved in a cause-and-effect relation, which would suppress a substantial segment of the action rather than representing the whole istoria. For him, it is inconceivable that such an emotional and psychological climax as the one [expressed] in Antonellos Annunciate . . . lacked the other pole or actor of the dramatic plot, of which the Virgin is but one protagonist.17 Although laboratory analyses tend to confirm that neither picture was bound to a pendant, thereby forming diptychs, one cannot peremptorily exclude the possibility that they fit within larger, multipaneled altarpieces. Yet, both panels more probably were conceived as independent works.18 Be that as it may, Zeris observation indirectly stresses the exceptionality of Antonellos endeavor, its boldly experimental character. Even ifas Ringbom stressesthe evolution of fifteenth-century religious images increasingly had recourse to narrative close-ups, Antonellos Annunciate goes well beyond the mark of this historical trend.19 In fact, there is no other case in fifteenth-century art of a sacred story so condensed as to feature but one character in the majestic form of an icon. Of course, Zeri has not been the only scholar to consider with wonder the uniqueness of Antonellos Annunciate. In a short passage of his Only Connect (1992), John Shearman posited that the pictures beholder has a viewpoint that might be called angelic. In other words, viewers participate in the pictorial action by playing out a previously unforeseen role: the angels. Shearman does not draw any conclusions from this assumption, thereby overlooking the momentous implications that this new role of angelic beholder could have on a devotional level. However, he highlights the ambiguity of the Palermo panel, where the spectator may not recognize his implied role or may choose to read his situation as external to that action, and to think of himself as no part of the narrative, as its witness rather than as participant. Furthermore, Shearman also deems it possible for the viewer to avoid the issue altogether with Antonellos picture, taking it as representing merely the Virgin reading, not interrupted by anything so specific as the angels message.20 In reality, it can be
The Invisible Presence

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established that in the case of the Palermo panel, beholders were never meant to experience Gabriels viewpoint. Nor could they interpret the scene as just a reading Virgin, sinceas I shall demonstrateviewers must decode the gesture of the raised hand as an incipient act of greeting, hence preliminary to the Annunciation. Therefore, the beholder attends the action as a witness. Creating Cinematically Sometime between 1425 and 1428, Robert Campin painted the Mrode Altarpiece (The Cloisters, New York).21 In its central panel, Campin represented the Virgin seated to the right, her face almost frontal, both hands holding the sacred text whose words she whispers, as shown by her parted lips (fig. 6). Her concentration is so profound that her eyes, partially covered by her downcast eyelids, do not move to acknowledge Gabriels presence; the messenger, in fact, has just landed to the left, greeting Mary with his uplifted hand, pronouncing the canonical salutation. The innovation introduced by Campin in the iconography of the Annunciation by describing the very outset of the episode inspired several painters in the Netherlands. Besides Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden elaborated on Campins idea in his Louvre Triptych, probably painted around 1435.22 There again, the central panel depicts an Annunciation (fig. 7). Always to the

FIGURE 6. Robert Campin, The Annunciation, Mrode Altarpiece, The Cloisters Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource, NY.

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FIGURE

7. Rogier van der Weyden, The Annunciation, Muse du Louvre, Paris. Photo: Runion des Muses nationaux/Art Resource, NY.

right, in the foreground, the Virgin interrupts her reading after hearing Gabriels salutation. With one hand, she rests the book on a low table serving as a lectern; with the other, open and raised, the fingers unfurling, she returns the angels greeting, as he approaches from the left and behind. The torsion of Marys torso and the orientation of her head make it clear that, upon Gabriels entering, her back had been turned to him, so that she had to pivot in order to identify her visitor. It would be superfluous to remark on the many similarities of setting between the Mrode and the Louvre Annunciations. Rather, I will concentrate on Van der Weydens visual layout of the narrative plot, conspicuously conceived as a sequel to Campins. Advancing the action by a few seconds, Van der Weyden subtly modifies the scenes emotional inflection. This time, Gabriel looks down to Mary as if discovering her face for the first time: one handthe leftis still greeting, while the right uncurls and fidgets in a gesture that probably does not accompany his words, but rather voices his admiration.
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Be that as it may, there is no doubt that the specific gesture performed by the Virgin in the Louvre Annunciation stands for salutation. Not only do we have several examples of such a gesture in Italian Renaissance painting, but an illuminated Flemish Visitation from the circa 1416 Duke of Berrys Book of Hours (Muse Cond, Chantilly) represents it in an unequivocal context: Mary greeting Elizabeth.23 Certainly, the posture of the Virgins hand is at least ambivalent, for, apart from addressing her cousin, she seems to welcome the divine sunshine pointing to her lap from above, thereby symbolically echoing the Annunciation.24 As a narrative afterword, this act of salutation accords well with the presence of the scripture, which Mary holds with her right hand devoutly wrapped in her mantle, an obvious reference to her reading before the Annunciation and an allusion to the incarnated Word. At an indeterminate time around 1456, Rogier van der Weyden executed another Annunciation in the left panel of his St. Columba Altarpiece (Alte Pinakothek, Munich; fig. 8).25 Compared with its equivalent in the Louvre

FIGURE

8. Rogier van der Weyden, The Annunciation, St. Columba Altarpiece, Alte Pinakothek, Munich. Photo: Foto Marburg/Art Resource, NY.

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FIGURE

9. Dieric Bouts, The Annunciation, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Photo: The J. Paul Getty Museum.

Tryptych, this episode proves more symbolic in the treatment of the narrative. More specifically, Van der Weyden indulges in some minor anachronisms, pushing the limits of pictorial verisimilitude. Here, the Virgins right hand lingers in the act of salutation while, turned to face Gabriel, she attentively listens tobut does not actually look athim. With his index finger directed skyward, the angels right hand both performs a gesture of authority and mimics a benediction.26 From a narrative perspective, the opposite orientations of Marys saluting hand and her downcast face attenuate the impression of surprise and fear suited to her character according to the iconographic tradition, underscoring instead the Virgins contemplative state. Put otherwise, Van der Weyden aims to abstractbut not to eradicate Marys figure from the dynamic unfolding of the action. On the contrary, Dieric Bouts in his circa 1450 Annunciation (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; fig. 9) transcends narrative altogether.27 To the right, the seated Virgin, sunk in lofty thoughts, both hands posed in a symmetrical act of adoration and meditation, apparently ignores Gabriels presence behind her, to the left.28 Theoretically, the dialogue between the messenger and the Annunciate is not performed physically or visually; it has to be inferred by beholders in accordance with their knowledge of scripture.
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FIGURE 10. Hans Memling, The Annunciation, Jan Crabbe Altarpiece, Groeningemuseum, Bruges. Photo: Stedelijke Musea Brugge/Lukas Art.

In a certain sense, Gabriel ceases to be an actor and morphs into an attribute or alter ego of Gods inaudible, mighty voice and will. Evidently to emphasize the symbolism of the event, Bouts placed the episode at a further stage, sifting through any emotional details, thereby moving beyond the angels irruption and the Virgins unsettlement. To reduce the narrative to its most basic form, Bouts thus had to set the scene in motion imaginatively, extrapolating from the iconographic tradition those elements that best fit his intention. The Getty Annunciation is also important here since it most likely had already arrived in Venice by the time Antonello sojourned there. Flemish artists could also isolate the Annunciate from the angel, by disposing each figure in a different panel. Around 146770, Hans Memling did so in the Jan Crabbe Altarpiece (Groeningemuseum, Bruges; fig. 10).29 Albeit separated on distinct pedestals and framed by adjacent niches, Mary and Gabriel continue to play out the Annunciation script as interacting actors. That is, their gestures insert them into a narrative context. Standing, 14
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FIGURE 11. Hans Memling, The Virgin Annunciate, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia. Photo: Philadelphia Museum of Art.

the Virgin raises her hand to salute the messenger while turning her face to him. However, as in Van der Weydens St. Columba Altarpiece, she seems not to heed the angels announcement, and is instead intent on an inner voice that plunges her into meditation and that viewers cannot discern. In this way, Memling disconnects the gestures from the unfolding action, creating once again a twofold (narrative and symbolic) frequency of reception. More important, when opened, the panel with the Virgin appears as an independent composition, which strengthensor rather generatesa powerful off-scene effect; the Virgin then proffers her salutation to the inpouring light, as if listening to its silent message. Curiously enough, the fragment of another Annunciation by Memling (Museum of Art, Philadelphia), which represents the saluting Virgin bust-length, helps us imagine in an experimental way all the potentialities of a hypothetical cut-in procedure (fig. 11).30 Guessing from the figures posture the initial configuration of the whole painting, we could hardly make out that the Virgin is about to face Gabriel to her right, much less that she is involved in the dynamics of a wider-spreading actionstill, this assumption is unequivocally confirmed by the iconographic tradition. Paradoxically, in comparison with Antonellos Palermo Annunciate, this fragment seems even more
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enigmatic. However, fifteenth-century viewers, if shown just this trimmed panel, would most likely have recognized it as the vestige of an Annunciation, and would not have read it as a simple icon. From this brief survey a few conclusions emerge. Resorting once again to an anachronistic parallel, let us compare the painters viewpoint to the lens of a camera. If one considers the settings of all these early Netherlandish Annunciations together, one will observe that, in spite of reasonable variations in decor, the cameras position constantly runs parallel to the scene, opening into diverse perspectives by shifting across the foreground, catching the two actors, the Virgin and Gabriel, at the same delegated spots, respectively right and left. In other words, Flemish painters adhere to a standard scenario, unwritten and never explicitly agreed upon, but functioning as a linchpin of artistic invention. Thus, one could amuse oneself by splicing together the close-ups of Campins, Van der Weydens, Boutss, and Memlings Annunciates, arranging them in diachronic succession, making them perform the sequence of the angels bursting-in and announcement (fig. 12). One will view the Virgin intent on reading, turning to Gabriel while saluting him, then pondering Gods decree, and finallyas we can see in Antonellos Munich Annunciatepledging obedience by crossing her hands.31 If the experiment works out, it is not because painters acted like movie directors but because they invented cinematically, elaborating on the archetypical scenario of an iconographic formula. They played the scene in their minds, froze the shot destined for development, found innovative ways of visualizing the script, and expanded on it. Unlike movie directors, they could combine chronologically differentiated gestures and postures in the same actor, thus bringing about a multivalent action: an action in which the past, the present, and the future could be summoned simultaneously, without overly apparent contradiction. This technique of invention, expounded by Italian theorists during the Renaissance, gave rise to a real revolution in narrative painting, in Flanders as well as in Italy.32 The evolution of narrative close-upsthe camera cutting into a formulaic setting, with varying angles of approachis but one consequence of this new pictorial practice. I could enumerate, if necessary, many other examples of early Netherlandish Annunciations characterized by analogous settings. Yet, I would like to single out a print by Frans van Bocholt, alias the Master F V B, engraved in the last quarter of the fifteenth century and certainly indebted to a Flemish composition now lost (fig. 13).33 Albeit the positions of the Virgin and Gabriel are reversed, the engraving follows the same familiar scheme: the Virgin seated in the foreground, holding the sacred text, an angel alongside. More relevant, Marys left hand hangs aloft exactly as the Annunciates right hand does in the Palermo panel. In the print, although the Virgin is about to 16
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FIGURE

12. From left to right, above: Robert Campin, The Annunciation, Mrode Altarpiece (detail), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Hans Memling, The Virgin Annunciate, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; Rogier van der Weyden, The Annunciation, St. Columba Altarpiece (detail), Alte Pinakothek, Munich; Hans Memling, The Annunciation, Jan Crabbe Altarpiece (detail), Groeningemuseum, Bruges. From left to right, below: Rogier van der Weyden, The Annunciation (detail), Muse du Louvre, Paris; Dieric Bouts, The Annunciation (detail), The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Antonello da Messina, The Virgin Annunciate, Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

greet Gabriel, she appears detached, her face frontward, her eyes staring into space, so that it is hard to say whether she is about to direct her gaze toward the herald or if she is just listening to his message. If we framed her bust and head in a close-up view, we would be amazed by the similarities with the Palermo panel. Of course, these analogies are not fortuitous, since both Antonello and Bocholt rely on the same iconography. In addition, this comparison allows me to corroborate my reading of the Palermo Annunciate. As I have already proposed, the Virgin is about to welcome Gabriel, who enters from the left invisibly, his divine radiance preceding him, his salutation warning the Virgin of the impending epiphany.
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FIGURE

13. Frans van Bocholt, alias the Master F V B, The Annunciation, Kupfertstichkabinett Albertina, Vienna. Photo: Albertina.

This is also the way Giovanni Bellini must have interpreted Antonellos composition (fig. 14). In his S. Giobbe altarpiece (Gallerie dellAccademia, Venice), the Virgin appears on a high throne, the infant Jesus astride her right thigh.34 Instead of gazing toward the viewer, she tilts her face to the right, her left hand reiterating the greeting typical of the Annunciation, as if welcoming the sunny radiance streaming from the right and ahead. By alluding to the mystery of the Incarnation, this retroactive salutation reminds the beholder of the Virgins immaculacy, and, indeed, other elements in the composition underscore this message: for one, the inscription in the mosaic above Mary, which reads: AVE VIRGINEI FLOS INTEMERATE PUDORIS (Hail, undefiled flower of virgin modesty). As a paraphrase of Gabriels allocution, the greeting renews Gods delight in Mary. The bride, now also the mother, greets the divine sunshine in reply. This detail, which seems to have gone unnoticed by scholars thus far, animates Bellinis picture by introducing an almost imperceptible component of action. In a certain sense, Bellini exploited Antonellos unusual combination of iconicity and narrative by incorporating an analog of his Annunciate within his own sacra conversazione, that is, by developing the situation depicted in the Palermo panel, but at a slightly further stage in the sequence. In fact, the Virgins hand is here completely uplifted, instead of being on the verge of rising. In an identical fashion, Leonardos Mary in the Uffizi Annunciation (147375) salutes Gabriel by directing her open left palm at him.35 18
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FIGURE 14. Giovanni Bellini, Madonna and Child with Saints (San Giobbe Altarpiece), Gallerie dellAccademia, Venice. Photo: Alinari/ Art Resource, NY.

The Two Annunciates Side-by-Side The cut-in performed in the Palermo panel was repeated by Antonello with significant variants in the Munich Annunciate. Here, he represented a subsequent moment, when the Virgin claims that she is the Lords servant (Ecce ancilla Domini). Even though this cannot be proven,
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FIGURE

15. Jan Van Eyck, The Annunciation, Polyptych of the Adoration of the Lamb (detail), St. Bavo Cathedral, Ghent. Photo: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.

I believe that once again Antonello edited in a close-up view an obedient Mary from a larger Annunciation, like the one depicted in Jan van Eycks St. Bavo Altarpiece (completed in 1432; fig. 15).36 Not only does the Virgin cross her hands similarly, her lips parted while uttering her acceptance, but also her torso is disposed imperceptibly askew to visually intensify the heads motion. Unlike Van Eyck, who had imagined Marys gaze turned heavenward, Antonello oriented the Virgins gaze to the side, as if clueing the viewer in to the angels invisible presence to her right. In this way, he underscored once again the off-scene effect he had already opted for in the Palermo panel. Compared with this, the Munich Annunciate proves both more stylized and more rhetorical. Here, on one hand, the elliptical contours of the Virgins veil and, especially, face betray a higher degree of abstraction, as if Antonello sought to fuse the Flemish and the Venetian canons into an individual stylistic paradigm. On the other, he places emphasis on the fact that the picture is but a segment of an ongoing narrative. The Virgins eloquent response to Gabriel somehow breaks the delicate balance between iconicity and action characteristic of the Palermo panel.37 Despite the close-up framing so specific to an icon, Antonellos Annunciate nonetheless invites the viewer to witness the preamble of the Incarnation as an unfolding, slow-paced action. The Virgins revolving motion is made conspicuous not only through the position and lighting of her face, and the 20
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asymmetric borders of the descending veil, but also through the dislocation of the pictures longitudinal axis: a slanting line linking the mantles main fold over the forehead, the nose bridge, and the pinching hand. Moreover, by placing in the foreground, at odds with the panels lower margin, the wooden table and lecternwhich substitute for the parapet typical of Flemish icons and portraitsAntonello not only disrupts the impression of contiguity determined by the close-up but also lures the viewers gaze to the orbit of the Virgins bust. Deceptively or intuitively, our gaze catches Marys solemn rotation, punctuated by the counterpoint of the fanning book. Transported by her intrigued gaze, the viewer is led toward the off-scene Gabriel in an attempt to identify, with her, the invisible visitor. It is perhaps difficult for us to appreciate the ingenuity of Antonellos invention, as well structured as a mathematical equation. In a single shot, motion and stillness, drama and contemplation blend together in harmony. Antonello managed to transfigure a Sicilian beautyso extraneous to any aesthetic canon, and thus certainly a portrait from lifeinto an almost geometric abstraction: a suave oval enclosed within the two intersecting parabolas of the ascending veil around the face and shoulders and its descending borders over the breast. This synthesis of the individual and the ideal, the material and the symbolic, is so refined in its apparent simplicity that only Raphael, at the apex of his career, could rival it, as evidenced by his 1513 Donna Velata (Galleria Palatina, Florence): this secular Madonna, sumptuously veiled, offers her affection and fidelity through the discreet, adumbrated gesture of the hand over her breast. To clearly apprehend the extent of Antonellos endeavor, one must imagine how difficult it must have been, in the depiction of the Virgins intrigued reaction to an as yet unknown Gabriel, to preserve the liturgical function of the panel. In the end, it still had to serve on a domestic altarpiece, receiving its owners prayers and devotions.38 To maintain the balance between narration and piety, Antonello not only whittled down the Annunciation story to an icon format but also supplied the Virgin with the ambivalent gesture of the raised hand, through which she both salutes Gabriel and bestows her protection on the believer kneeling in front of the picture. In that position, indeed, the viewer could also liken Marys incipient salutation to the canonical imposition of the hand.39 To support this reading, consider Giovan Battista Cima da Coneglianos 15056 Montini Altarpiece (Galleria Nazionale, Parma), where the Virgin on an elevated throne imposes her hand on St. Cosmas or Damian in a gesture analogous to that of Antonellos Annunciate (fig. 16).40 More important, by depicting a situation in which a response to an external soundGabriels salutationis alluded to, Antonello availed himself of a pictorial device equivalent to what scholars of silent movies have more recently defined as transi-sound effects: the representation of an ongoing
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FIGURE 16. Giovan Battista Cima da Conegliano, Madonna and Child Enthroned with Six Saints (Montini Altarpiece), Galleria Nazionale, Parma. Photo: Scala/Art Resource, NY.

dialogue with an off-scene interlocutor, constantly shown in a separate frame by dint of parallel editing.41 In the case of the Palermo panel, viewers of course had to imaginatively reconstruct the angels presence and his voice, which they certainly did out of habit.42 In this regard, it must be assumed that the transi-sound effect involved in Antonellos composition equally fulfilled a devotional task. It is no coincidence that one of the most popular Catholic prayers to the Virgin, the Ave Maria, begins with the greeting that, though from off-scene, triggers the action described in the Palermo panel.43 In other words, the believers silent or voiced invocation to the Annunciate replaces and echoes Gabriels salutation. Inadvertently, the viewer envisions the Annunciation scene in its entirety, filling in the blanks of the panel, visually as well as acoustically. Consequently, the restrained view determined by 22
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the close-up framing awakens the believers imagination and piety much more effectively than would the representation of the whole episode. From this point of view, Antonellos Munich panel evokes an altogether opposite reaction. By dwelling on the Virgins humble reply to Gods decree, Antonello lessens the impact of the off-scene and transi-sound effects, so that the beholder does not need to rewind the action mentally in order to understand the image. Instead, cut off from the dialogue between the Virgin and Gabriel, the viewer ends up contemplating the brides steady humility. The Advantage of Stillness
The crucial gesturing hand of the Virgin, and the fact of its being done in such dramatic (almost showy) foreshortening . . . seems to me one of the elements in the painting that most disturbs the iconic balance. . . . The fact that the recognition of divinity, or the advent of the divine, is done in a way that so insists on the this-thereness of the hand in a real space, intimatingalmost reaching intoa continuity with the space of the viewer/worshipper: this strikes me as almost as extraordinary a pictorial episode as the cut-off close-up. Or anyway, a further dimension of Antonellos achievement.44

Despite its iconlike format and devotional functions, the Palermo panel by no means ranks as an icon. This point requires explanation. Recently, Hans Belting has interpreted Antonellos Annunciate as an example in point of a highly innovative type of early modern icon: the picture
now [embraces] the truth of the gaze (image) and [contrasts] it with the metaphor of the book (sign) as the domain of the intelligible (in the Latin sense of mere abstract, non-sensual cognition). Looking and reading [part] with one another. The image [responds] to bodily (visual) perception, while the sign [addresses] a trans-visual reality.45

To comprehend Beltings point of view, it is necessary somehow to assimilate Antonellos panel to a traditional Byzantine icon: a Virgin with the addition of the sacred book. The introduction of the latter, in Beltings view, modifies the perception of the image, inviting the viewer to bypass the conventional association between divine prototype and its representation as developed by Byzantine artists and theorists. The depiction of the Bible thus opens into a new metaphorical dimension, in which the dialectic of the visible and the invisible, the figure and the sign, fully and allusively manifests itself.46 I will not discuss this assumption, which I do not embrace. Rather, I will underline the fact that, as a consequence, Belting misreads the Palermo panel. The Virgins gaze is not directed inward, pointing to an inner vision that escapes us, as he suggests. As I have already demonstrated,
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Antonellos Annunciate, although deeply meditative, almost imperceptibly turns her gaze to the intruding angel, as if caught off-guard during her reading. Furthermore, the particular action she performs contradicts the very notion of devotional iconicity. Lest the boundaries between the contemplative and the narrative functions of sacred images be blurred so much as to fade away, it is necessary to distinguish them from each other, though not categorically: they must be described as virtually dialectical tendencies in the images invention and reception. However, as a general rule the icon, albeit provided with action for instance the infant Jesus caressing his mothers cheekdoes not invite beholders to place the scene into a spatial and temporal framework to grasp its significance and devotional implications. On the contrary, it beguiles viewers into contemplation by transfiguring the image into vision; the representation is therefore bereft of any reference to space and time: a quintessential paradigm of the Childs sweetness.47 Antonellos Annunciate does not belong to this category. To grasp its meaning, the viewer must reconfigure the entire episode by reassembling its missing elements. As mentioned earlier, these are not only visual (the angels figure) but also acoustic (the divine salutation); briefly, the image constantly points to the invisible and the inaudible; it relies on them for completeness. As a result, the composition calls for a preamble and an aftermath. Unaware both of the heralds identity and the messages content, Antonellos Annunciate has not yet become the mother of God; her hand, suspended in action, metaphorically evokes the meaningful suspension of the moment chosen by the artist: a moment that will transform Gods beloved bride into the receptacle of human salvation. From this prospect, the specific setup of the Palermo Annunciate, with its characteristic close-up, cut-in, and off-scene, is the means by which Antonello could give new form and meaning to the theological depth embedded in both the biblical episode of the Annunciation and its conventional representation in images. Visibility and invisibility, the before and the after of that critical turning point in the history of humankind, already lingered in suspension, latent beneath the literary and visual surface of the Incarnations story. By focusing on the Annunciates close-up, Antonello not only relegated offstage actors and attributes of the Annunciation to an invisible outside but also endowed the off-scenewhatever traditionally might surround the reading Virginwith an invisible force: that of making temporality appear and divinity act. Paradoxically, the limits of the painted imageprimarily its stillness and inability to unfold in time in front of the viewerturns here into an unexpected advantage. Probably no moving image, most particularly the sequence of a movie, could suggest the mighty implications of Antonellos painting, not to mention its collapse of temporality to a standstill. 24
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In the Palermo panel, past and future thus are summoned through the representation of an impending present. The allusion to different, though interrelated temporal dimensions, the interaction between the on-scene and the off-scene, the visible and the (as yet) invisible, the audible and the silent, all of these are prompts for active reading, not exclusively for religious contemplation. By depicting the prelude to the Annunciation, to wit, the turning point of both the Virgins life and humanitys fate, Antonello questionsor reassessesthe mystery of the Incarnation: from an axiomatic vision, it temporarily becomes an unfulfilled event, an invisible future. The vibrant expectancy expressed by the Virgin in welcoming her uninvited visitor incites the viewer to measure the incommensurable scope of Gods inscrutable will. Gabriels shapeless presence and inaudible voice exceed Marys senses as well as the viewers. As Timanthes had covered Agamemnons face in his Sacrifice of Iphigenia to enable the beholder to conceive the unimaginable, so too did Antonello conceal any sign of divine presence to imply its fearful, hopeful epiphany.48 As a figurative litotes, the angels disappearance and muteness thus enhance the effect of dramatic incompleteness conveyed by the Virgins suspended action. In the sacred story related by Antonellos Palermo Annunciate, Gods invisible presence is about to incarnate mysteriously into history.

Notes

In the summer of 2007, Charles Dempsey retired from teaching at Johns Hopkins after training many generations of scholars. This paper is dedicated to his outstanding work on both Renaissance and Baroque art. It is also a token of my personal affection for and gratitude to him. This paper would not exist without the vital inspiration of Alexander Nagel. His remarks on Antonellos panel when it was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in the winter of 2006, deeply modified my point of view on quattrocento art. I am therefore much indebted to Alexanders invaluable insights. I would like to thank all the colleagues who read or heard this essay in its previous forms: Timothy J. Clark, Elizabeth Cropper, Thomas Cummings, Leonard Folgarait, Jack Greenstein, Andr Gaudreault, Laurence Kanter, Evonne Levy, Keith Moxey, Larry Silver, Irene Small, and Philip Sohm. 1. Keith Moxey, The Practice of Persuasion: Paradox and Power in Art History (Ithaca, NY, 2001), 106. 2. Michael Baxandall, Patterns of Intention: On the Historical Explanation of Pictures (New Haven, 1985), 120. 3. Erwin Panofsky, Imago Pietatis: ein Beitrag zur Typengeschichte des Schmerzensmanns und der Maria Mediatrix, in Festschrift fr Max Friedlnder zum 60. Geburtstage (Leipzig, 1927), 261308. See also Erwin Panofsky, Peinture et dvotion en The Invisible Presence

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4. 5. 6.

7. 8.

9. 10.

Europe la fin du Moyen-ge, ed. Daniel Arasse (Paris, 1997). Sixten Ringbom, Icon to Narrative: The Rise of the Dramatic Close-Up in Fifteenth-Century Devotional Painting, 2nd ed. rev. (Amsterdam, 1984). Hans Belting, Das Bild und sein Publikum im Mittelalter: Form und Funktion frher Bildtafeln der Passion (Berlin, 1981), 69104. Giorgio Vasari, Le vite de pi eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori nelle redazioni del 1550 e 1568, eds. Rosanna Bettarini and Paola Barocchi (Florence, 1971), 3:306. For suspense in movies and video games, see Nol Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror or Paradoxes of the Heart (New York, 1990); Nol Carroll, The Paradox of Suspense, in P. Vorderer, J. Wulff, and M. Friedrichsen, eds., Conceptualization, Theoretical Analysis, and Empirical Explorations (Mahwah, NJ, 1996), 7190; Robert Baird, The Startle Effect: Implications for the Spectator Cognition and Media Theory, Film Quarterly 53 (2000): 1324; Bernard Perron, Sign of a Threat: The Effects of Warning Systems in Survival Horror Games, COSIGN 2004 Proceedings (Split, 2004), 13241; Bernard Perron, Silent Hill. Il motore del terrore (Genoa, 2006); Bernard Perron, Coming to Play at Frightening Yourself: Welcome to the World of Horror Video Games, in www.aestheticsofplay.org/ papers/perron2.htm. For the movie, see Tom Gunning, D. W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film: The Early Years at Biograph (Urbana, 1991), 275. For off-scene in silent movies, see Bernard Perron, Au-del du hors-champ: le hors-scne, Communication 13 (1992): 8597. See Antonello da Messina (Rome, 1981), 18486, cat. no. 41. Fiorella Sricchia Santoro, ed., Antonello e lEuropa (Milan, 1986), 169, cat. no. 39. Mauro Lucco, ed., Antonello da Messina: Lopera completa (Milan, 2006), 23234, cat. no. 35. See also Marco Collareta, Antonello e il tema dellAnnunciazione, in Lucco, Antonello da Messina, 6573. See Gabriele Mandel, Lopera completa di Antonello da Messina: Presentazione di Leonardo Sciascia (Milan, 1967), 99100, cat. no. 65. For the iconography of the Annunciation, see David M. Robb, The Iconography of the Annunciation in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, Art Bulletin 18 (1936): 480526; Lucien Rudrauf, The Annunciation: Study of a Plastic Theme and Its Variations in Painting and Sculpture, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 7 (1949): 32548; Wolfgang Braunfels, Die Verkndigung (Dsseldorf, 1949); Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy (Oxford, 1972), 4956; Don Denny, The Annunciation from the Right: From Early Christian Times to the Sixteenth Century (New York, 1977); Jeffrey Ruda, Flemish Painting and the Early Renaissance in Florence: Questions of Influence, Zeitschrift fr Kunstgeschichte 2 (1984): 21036; Gert Duwe, Der Wandel in der Darstellung der Verkndigung an Maria vom Trecento zum Quattrocento (Frankfurt, 1988); Marzena Chodor, Religious and Cultural Contexts of Images of the Annunciation in Fifteenth-Century Netherlandish Painting: With Special Reference to Dieric Bouts and His Circle (PhD diss., University of Bristol, 1992); Gert Duwe, Die Verkndigung an Maria in der niederlndischen Malerei des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts (Berlin, 1994); Stefanie Renner, Die Darstellung der Verkndigung an Maria in der florentinischen Malerei: von Andrea Orcagna (1346) bis Lorenzo Monaco (1425) (Bonn, 1996); Julia Liebrich, Die Verkndigung an Maria: die Ikonographie der italienischen Darstellungen von den Anfngen bis 1500 (Cologne, 1997); Daniel

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11.

12.

13. 14. 15. 16.

17. 18. 19.

Arasse, LAnnonciation italienne: une histoire de perspective (Paris, 1999); Ann van Dijk, The Angelic Salutation in Early Byzantine and Medieval Annunciation Imagery, Art Bulletin 81, no. 3 (1999): 42036; Carol J. Purtle, Van Eycks Washington Annunciation: Narrative Time and Metaphoric Tradition, Art Bulletin 81, no. 1 (1999): 11725; Sven Lken, Die Verkndigung an Maria im 15. und frhen 16. Jahrhundert: historische und kunsthistorische Untersuchungen (Gttingen, 2000); Jessica Winston, Describing the Virgin, Art History 25 (2002): 27592; Timothy Verdon, Mary in Western Art (New York, 2005); Hanneke Grootenboer, Reading the Annunciation, Art History 30 (2007): 34963. See also Jacques Aumont, Annonciations (Migrations, 31), Cinmas 12 (2002): 5371. To my knowledge, the only other authors who have correctly proposed that the angel is coming from the left are Mary Pardo, The Subject of Savoldos Magdalene, Art Bulletin 71, no. 1 (1989): 6791, reprinted in Michael W. Cole, ed., Sixteenth-Century Italian Art (Malden, MA, 2006), 44184, esp. 45052; and Bernard Aikema and Beverly Louise Brown, Painting in Fifteenth-Century Venice and the ars nova of the Netherlands, in Bernard Aikema and Beverly Louise Brown, eds., Renaissance Venice and the North: Crosscurrents in the Time of Bellini, Drer, and Titian (Milan, 1999), 182: In another Virgin Annunciate (Galleria regionale della Sicilia, Palermo) . . . Antonello engages the viewer in a somewhat different manner. Here, the Virgin is seated behind a lectern, which is placed at an oblique angle to the picture plane, effectively bridging the liminal space. Her reaction to the angel whoinvisible to usappears to her left, is much more subdued and decorous than in the Munich picture. She seems to be lost in thought and only through the movement of her hands does she betray her awareness of Gabriels presence. The motif of the Virgin pinching the borders of her mantle in surprise or fear at the arrival of the angel is not uncommon. See for instance the very wellknown example of Simone Martinis Annunciation in the Uffizi, Florence. See Andrew Martindale, Simone Martini: Complete Edition (Oxford, 1988), 18790, cat. no. 12. See Jane Martineau, ed., Andrea Mantegna (New York, 1992), 231, cat. no. 54. Lucco, Antonello da Messina, 254, no. 41; Mauro Lucco, ed., Mantegna e Mantova (Milan, 2006), 84, cat. no. 9. Franco Borsi and Stefano Borsi, Paolo Uccello (Milan, 1992), 236; 315, cat. no. 16. It is a much-debated question whether or not Antonello went to the Low Countries, as stated by Vasari in the 1568 edition of the Vite. For this problem, see more recently: Till-Holger Borchert, Antonello da Messina e la pittura fiamminga, in Lucco, Antonello da Messina, 2741. Federico Zeri, Un riflesso di Antonello da Messina a Firenze, Paragone Arte 99 (1958): 1621, esp. 1920. See Lucco, Antonello da Messina, 234, 254. Ringbom, Icon to Narrative, esp. 6465. In connection with Antonellos Palermo Annunciate, Ringbom writes: In Antonellos other impressive treatment of the same subject in Palermo, Museo Nazionale, the symmetrical composition has been enlivened on the lines of a Chalkoprateia [that is, a Byzantine Virgin in the act of praying, one or two hands lifted and turned to the beholder]. Instead of the stiff position of the hands of the frontal orans, we behold the Virgin raising

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20. 21. 22. 23.

24. 25. 26. 27. 28.

29. 30. 31. 32.

33. 34. 35. 36.

her right hand while at the same time grasping the folds of her maphorion [her mantle] (65). As will become clear from my text, I do not share Ringboms opinion. John K. G. Shearman, Only Connect: Art and the Spectator in the Italian Renaissance (Princeton, NJ, 1992), 3536. Felix Thrlemann, Robert Campin: A Monographic Study with Critical Catalogue (Munich, 2002), 5876; Albert Chtelet, Robert Campin, le matre de Flmalle: La fascination du quotidien (Antwerp, 1996), 29194, cat. no. 6. Dirk De Vos, Rogier van der Weyden: Luvre complet (Antwerp, 1999), 19599. See Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style (Oxford, 1974), 6770. Millard Meiss, French Painting in the Time of Jean de Berry: The Limbourgs and Their Contemporaries (New York, 1974), 102224. For the ambivalence of gestures in a medieval Annunciation, see Jean Arrouye, Polysmie gestuelle dans une Annonciation siennoise du XIVe sicle, Le geste et les gestes au Moyen ge (Aix-en-Provence, 1998), 2732. De Vos, Rogier van der Weyden, 27684. For the significance of this gesture as an act of authority and command coming from an authoritative person, see Franois Garnier, Le langage de limage au Moyen-ge: Signification et symbolique (Paris, 1982), 1:16768. See Catheline Prier-DIeteren, Dieric Bouts: The Complete Works (Antwerp, 2006), 16668; 238, cat. no. 3. Garnier, Le langage de limage, 1:176, demonstrates that this gesture originally voiced the acceptance of the divine will. Since it is usually used by fifteenthcentury artists, both in Italy and Flanders, in relation to the adoring Virgin of the Nativity, I believe that here too it expresses an act of adoration and meditation. Dirk De Vos, Hans Memling: Luvre complet (Antwerp, 1994), 9093. Ibid., 12223. See Garnier, Le langage de limage, 1:184, 186. Among the first examples of a technique of invention through visualization and composition of separate figures or scenes, see Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting and On Sculpture: The Latin Texts of De Pictura and De Statua, 3.1024, ed. and trans. Cecil Grayson (London, 1972), 61; Lodovico Dolce, Dialogo della pittura (Venice, 1557), in Mark W. Roskill, ed., Dolces Aretino and Venetian Art Theory of the Cinquecento (Toronto, 2000), 11824. F. W. H. Hollstein, Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings, and Woodcuts, ca. 14501700, vol. 12, Masters and Monogrammists of the 15th Century (Amsterdam, 19492003), 143. See Rona Goffen, Giovanni Bellini (New Haven, 1989), 14360. See Antonio Natali, ed., LAnnunciazione di Leonardo. La montagna sul mare (Milan, 2000). Elisabeth Dhanens, Hubert et Jan van Eyck (Antwerp, 1980), 74 ff. The Munich painting has been considered related to a print with a praying Virgin by the Master E S (Ringbom, Icon to Narrative, 6465) or to a Byzantine panel in the cathedral of Fermo (Italy), showing the Virgin with her hands crossed over her breast (Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art [Chicago, 1994], 34648). It is possible that Antonello knew the Fermo panel, but I believe that Belting, by comparing it with the Munich painting, overlooks a detail that makes a great difference: Antonellos Virgin turns her

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37.

38.

39. 40. 41. 42.

43. 44. 45.

46.

47.

48.

gaze and responds to an off-scene figure, the angel, and is thus involved in a narrative context, which is absolutely not the case with the Byzantine Virgin. See Aikema and Brown, Painting in Fifteenth-Century Venice, 182: A strong light illuminates the Virgin from the left, signaling that this is the very moment when the angel appears. The Virgin, her mouth half opened in fear or surprise, turns around to confront the divine messenger, crossing her arms in a gesture of modesty. As I have explained in the text, the Munich Annunciate is not caught off-guard here, but she pledges her obedience by crossing the hands and proffering the Ecce ancilla Domini. The dimension and format of Antonellos panel undoubtedly indicate that it was destined for private use. For bibliography, see John Oliver Hand, Catherine A. Metzger, and Ron Spronk, Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych (New Haven, CT, 2007), and more recently ric Palazzo, Lespace rituel et le sacr dans le christianisme: La liturgie de lautel portatif dans lAntiquit et au Moyen-ge (Turnhout, 2008). See Garnier, Le langage de limage, 1:196; Moshe Barasch, Giotto and the Language of Gesture (Cambridge, 1987), 11727. See Peter Humfrey, Cima da Conegliano (Cambridge, 1983), 13738, cat. no. 118. Bernard Perron, The First Transi-Sounds of Parallel Editing, in Richard Abel and Rick Altman, eds., The Sounds of Early Cinema (Bloomington, 2001), 7986. I have already dealt with this topic, but in connection with a seventeenthcentury painter, Philippe de Champaigne, in Lorenzo Pericolo, Philippe homme sage et vertueux: Essai sur lart et luvre de Philippe de Champaigne (Tournai, 2002), esp. 15560. For the interactions between prayer, liturgy, and image, see Laura Jacobus, Giottos Annunciation in the Arena Chapel, Padua, Art Bulletin 81, no. 1 (1999): 93107. Timothy J. Clark, letter to the author dated 8 January 2008. Hans Belting, The Invisible Icon and the Icon of the Invisible: Antonello and New Paradigms in Renaissance Painting, in Lynn Catterson and Mark Zucker, eds., Watching Art: Writings in Honor of James BeckStudi di Storia dellarte in onore di James Beck (Todi, 2006), 7383, esp. 7980. I have already dealt with the relationship between the visible and the invisible in images, but in connection with the figure of Christ; see Lorenzo Pericolo, Visualizing Appearance and Disappearance: On Caravaggios London Supper at Emmaus, Art Bulletin 89, no. 3 (2008): 51939. I do not intend here to create a new typology of religious images in the early Renaissance, even though I believe a distinction in function must be more definitively traced. For a discussion of functions in icons, see Belting, Das Bild und sein Publikum im Mittelalter. For Pliniuss and Quintilians description and interpretation of Timanthes Sacrifice of Iphigenia and its reception, see R. G. Austin, Quintilian on Painting and Statuary, Classical Quarterly 38, no. 1/2 (1944): 1726; H. Fullenwider, The Sacrifice of Iphigenia in French and German Art Criticism: 17551757, Zeitschrift fr Kunstgeschichte 52 (1989): 53949.

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