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Carlo Crivelli, 'The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius', 1486

Key facts
Full title The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius
Artist Carlo Crivelli
Artist dates about 1430/5 - about 1494
Date made 1486
Medium and support Egg and oil on canvas
Dimensions 207 × 146.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by Lord Taunton, 1864
Inventory number NG739
Location Room 15
Collection Main Collection
The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius
Carlo Crivelli

The Archangel Gabriel descends from God to tell the Virgin that she is to bear a child – a moment known as the Annunciation – but has been distracted from his mission by a bishop saint, who has stopped him in the street of a Renaissance town. This is Saint Emidius, patron saint of the town of Ascoli Piceno in the Italian Marches. This painting is unique in showing a local saint effectively intervening in a biblical event.

Ascoli was ruled by the pope but was granted a degree of self-government in 1482. The news arrived on 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation. From this time onward this feast was celebrated with a great procession to the convent of the Observant Friars, for whom this altarpiece was made.

The coats of arms along the base are those of the pope, the town and its bishop, while the inscription, ‘LIBERTAS ECCLESIASTICA’, was the title of the papal bull granting Ascoli its rights.

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