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Cosimo Tura, The Virgin Annunciate

Key facts
Full title The Virgin Annunciate
Artist Cosimo Tura
Artist dates before 1431 - 1495
Date made probably about 1475-80
Medium and support Oil and egg on poplar
Dimensions 45.1 × 34 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1874
Inventory number NG905
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Virgin Annunciate
Cosimo Tura

Something – or someone – has interrupted the Virgin Mary’s reading. This panel was probably part of a large image which included the angel Gabriel, the cause of her surprise. Gabriel brought her the news that she would conceive a child by the Holy Ghost, and that he would be the son of God (Luke 1: 26–38). She is seated against the backdrop of a hazy wild landscape with rocky precipices on one side and an ordered city on the other.

Strong dark lines can be seen through the paint surface, particularly in the Virgin’s hands and neck. This is the design Tura drew onto the panel before he began to paint. The way in which he outlined features is very recognisable and can sometimes, as here, appear exaggerated and unnatural – her knuckles, for example, seem excessively bony.

A large vertical split in the panel which ran through the Virgin’s face has been restored by the National Gallery’s conservation team.

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