The Annunciation to Zacharias; (verso) The Angel of the Annunciation
Giovanni di Paolo (Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia) (Italian, Siena 1398–1482 Siena)
Tempera and gold on wood
29 7/8 x 17 in. (75.9 x 43.2 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 956
Giovanni di Paolo, one of the most important figures in the history of Sienese painting, was active for much of the fifteenth century. This panel is the first episode of an ambitious narrative cycle: a series of twelve scenes from the Life of Saint John the Baptist, distributed in four vertical rows of three scenes each. Although the original function and location of the cycle are unknown, it is likely that the panels formed two movable wings of a cupboard or custodia containing a sculpture or reliquary of Saint John the Baptist. The Annunciation to Zacharias, taken from the Gospel of Saint Luke (1:5-25), recounts the moment at which the Angel Gabriel foretells the birth of a son, John the Baptist, to the childless Zacharias. The incredulous Zacharias performs his priestly duties in an elaborate architectural setting whose domes and lantern recall Brunelleschi's celebrated cupola which crowns the Duomo in Florence.
Cardinal Rinaldi, Naples (see below); Principe Santangelo, Naples (see the Catalogo della pinacoteca dei Marchesi Santangelo di Napoli, 1876, pp. 17-18, where the panel is attributed to Taddeo Gaddi, with Cardinal Rinaldi named as the owner in the 17th century; no further panels of this series are listed, but the two panels at Münster were bought from the dealer Maurer in 1898 with a Santangelo provenance); private collection, Rome (P. Schubring, "Opere sconosciute," p. 163, n.); Attilio Simonetti, Rome; purchased by Philip Lehman in 1914 (F. M. Perkins, "Dipinti senesi sconosciuti o inediti," Rassegna d'arte 14, 1914, p. 163); Pauline Ickleheimer, New York. Acquired by Robert Lehman in 1946.