Cestello Annunciation

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Sandro Botticelli, Cestello Annunciation, 1489
By REID GUEMMER

Oh, the drama! I suppose I would be just as distraught if someone told me I had been impregnated as a virgin.

It's said that painting is the highest form of art, therefore it is no wonder scenes taken from the bible are such a common subject matter. This was especially popular during the Renaissance.
Known for his biblical artwork, Botticelli spent the most part of his career as a painter retelling religious events through painting. Religion was so heavily documented that in some fashion it functions as a (potentially biased) version of history. One is typically unable to understand the present without knowledge of the past, so in some context these artistically documented stories are essential to the progression of society.

Costello Annunciation is Botticelli's depiction of the angel Gabriel breaking the news to Mary, who if you haven't heard is a virgin, that she's having a baby. In my opinion, the scene looks like it belongs in a soap opera or telenovela. Don't get me wrong, the technique and paintings itself is beautiful, but the expressions worn by the two characters only provide a certain depth to what they were actually feeling. It is a painting and therefore is staged, but Mary's face lacks the elements necessary to portray raw emotion.

I have always like Botticelli, but was typically only drawn to his more whimsical paintings. The exception though was Cestello Annunciation. What made me fall in love was the perspective. Despite the two characters clearly being the subject matter, Botticelli manages to draw the audience to all aspects of the painting by using a technique called "Brunelleschi's perspective." From the drapery of Gabriel's robe to the lush fields and castles, his attention to detail and the composition make this painting. Through the window you can see the kingdom's outskirts, reminding us that although religion may play a large part in the world, it isn't everything. The world is great because humans are, not only because God is.

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