This is [Not] a Crown: Annunciazione with Donors, attributed to Giandomenico Catalano (ca. 1630)

Russo, Alessandra

Entering the Chiesa Madre of Specchia (Salento, Puglia), one is immediately captured by a painting of exceptional finesse. Still framed by a coeval altar in pietra leccese, the monumental canvas depicts the Annunciation surrounded by a mix of sacred and real scenes; on the top, at the center, the foreshortened flight of the Holy Spirit is surrounded by a rose of cherubim’s faces, while on the side, angel musicians sit on a thick layer of dense clouds which seem difficult to pierce even by the messenger’s assured finger. On the left, a grisaille-like view of a town and hills recalls Specchia. The Annunciation moment itself is organized around a prie-dieu supported by a sensual caryatid that recalls the astonishing woodwork still visible in the region (pulpit in Manduria, Chiesa Madre). The indisputable portraits of a man and a woman—a couple shown in all their decorum (the man’s black dress, the woman’s prudent elegance) with no point of physical contact between them and kept even more at a distance by the length of the inscription Tibi Soli Deus Laus Honor et Gloria— offer a bridge between the pictorial space and our space: the man seems to look up while the woman’s eyes intriguingly fix on us. Her light strabismus captures our attention still more. The pictorial rendering of her skin makes her auratically present.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Latin American and Iberian Cultures
Spanish Italy & the Iberian Americas
Published Here
February 20, 2023


Preferred Citation: Russo, Alessandra. “This is [Not] a Crown: Annunciazione with Donors, attributed to Giandomenico Catalano (ca. 1630).” In Michael Cole and Alessandra Russo, eds. Spanish Italy & The Iberian Americas. New York, NY: Columbia University 2021. []