The Sense of Sight

Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 542

The mirror projecting a woman’s face toward us has been included in order to create an allegory of sight, probably based on prototypes by Jusepe de Ribera, a Spanish painter active in Naples from 1616 until his death in 1652. The present painter’s name remains unknown, though similar handling and palette are found in a small group of works executed in Naples between around 1620 and 1640. The conceit of the mirror offering two views and evoking sight and self-knowledge are found to similar effect in Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun’s Julie Le Brun, Looking in a Mirror (1787), also part of The Met’s collection.

The Sense of Sight, Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds (Italian, active Naples, ca. 1620–40), Oil on canvas

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