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Gratitude Friday: Silly Art that Makes Me Smile


Diana has challenged her fellow bloggers to take time each Friday to reflect on things that we are grateful for, and most of us take the high road. I've written about many, many things that have made my life rich: my family, my friends, the many travel opportunities I've enjoyed, good health.

Today, I'm thinking with much gratitude about things that make me smile, and laugh. Alas, this is where I step down from the high road to talk about something that makes me smile because it's rather silly.

This Annunciation, by Bologna artist Pietro Faccini, hangs in Bologna's Pinacoteca, or picture gallery, and when I saw it in June, I found it so silly that I actually burst out laughing.

Instantly, I pictured this painting on the cover of a steamy, bodice-ripper novel -- Women Too Beautiful for Their Own Good, perhaps. Gone with the Baroque Wind. Women who Fly With The Angels.

The rich, fancy clothes, the extremely exaggerated movements -- all seemed too over-the-top. And what about that turtle? The turtle really intrigues. Does he represent wisdom, which is otherwise lacking here? Did the artist misunderstand "turtle-dove" and think his patrons wanted a turtle AND a dove in the piece?

But honestly, to me this painting is over-wrought, perhaps over-ripe, so much so that I couldn't resist snapping a photo to document: Good Ideas Gone Bad. (BTW, I did NOT use a flash, I never would in an art gallery.This room was very bright -- all the better to see the oh-so-lush details!)

This piece was painted in about 1600, perhaps a point where the Renaissance had been left on the stove far too long and was beginning to scorch. Perhaps Faccini should have known better, because I believe he is a serious, recognized artist whose works hang in the Louvre in Paris and in Rome's Capitoline Museums (where he has a nice sketch of a dog in a field.)

I think this particularly caught my eye because generally speaking, I'm very fond of depictions of the Annunciation. Often, they're very, very beautiful -- such as these below painted by the great master Fra Angelico.

The first, a fresco in a main corridor in San Marco in Florence, was painted around 1450. The second, an Altarpiece of the Annunciation, was painted between 1430-1432, and now hangs in the Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain



In sum, I am always very, very grateful to Fra Angelico, for his many works that I find so very beautiful.

And, today I really should thank Faccini for making me smile, when I see his take on the Annunciation.

Comments (9)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, you are so knowledgeable about art. I enjoyed reading your description of the first painting and the humor you found. It is pretty funny.

Fra Angelico's Alterpiece was one of my favorites in the Prado museum. You are so right about his work. This painting was so stunning and beautfiul, I actually went back to get a second look before I left the museum.

Thanks for this wonderful post. Have a great day today.

It really is a bodice-ripper Annunciation! Mary looks pretty muscular too -her biceps are about to pop out of that dress.


Hi Kathy, I'm so envious that you saw Fra Angelico's Altarpiece in Spain -- lucky you!

BTW, I hope you had a wonderful birthday.

Annie, she IS a pretty wild-looking Mary! I hadn't thought of it before, but she seems to appear in that bicep-flexing pose that weightlifters use for showing off!

The Fra Angelico fresco in San Marco in Florence is one of my very favorite things.

I really enjoyed showing it to Alessandro in 07.

It is funny how over wrought some of that religious art got - I wonder how the pios church goers of the time viewed it? Given that it was painted to send THEM a message - did they get it?

Is the over the top nature of it a sign of the times? Wickedness abounds so we must be really, really forcefull with this message?

Like you I prefer the peaceful serenity of Fra Angelico.


Leslie, that must be a really wonderful memory!

Hi Jerry, you do have to wonder what the message was that was being sent by this painting -- maybe it was commissioned by a fabric merchant, as much advertising his wares as anything else!

Hi Sandra, thank you for this exquisite interpretation. I think most baroque art was made to impress and to scare people, to demonstrate the immense power of the church. This thing is so OTT that the angel and Virgin look scared of each other!


Hi Letizia, it IS a bit scary for everyone: the angel, Mary, and the viewer -- I'm not comfortable with the bird that looks ready to dive-bomb everyone. (I say bird because I really can't believe that is supposed to represent The Holy Spirit.)

I have to thank you for the laugh I just had reading your blog! I also enjoyed reading all of the comments. I didn't even notice the muscles until Annie mentioned them! I also think the two Fra Angelico's are much more pleasing.

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