The Annunciation of Mary by Francesco Lombardo

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Francesco Lombardo

The Annunciation of Mary


142.24 x 165.1 cm | 56 x 65 in

Oil on canvas

  • Honorable Mention / Imaginative Realism

Though this is by far the most time I've spent on any single project - it's entire creation spanning about three years of on and off work - it represents the culmination of everything I know about painting, and in reality took me no less than 36 years to complete. Regardless of religion, I chose to paint Mary because of her starring role as the sacred subject in so many paintings. I see her ongoing prevalence in the art world as a kind of rite of passage - a kind of reminder that she is the focus of some critical work during the career of every artist. Though I am anything but a religious scholar, I found little mention in the Bible or Quran about how exactly Mary conceived. In the Bible the angel Gabriel alludes in an offhand way that the Holy Spirit will take care of things. In the Quran it's said that God "breathed his spirit" into Mary. I decided that if a God, breath, spirit is responsible for your conception, it's probably a pretty memorable experience - hence the multidimensional, stormy sky, St. Elmo's Fire mashup. I took inspiration from many things, more obviously from Bernini's sculpture, Ecstasy of St. Teressa, and ultimately decided to show a more sensual side of Mary as she consents to be taken by a God. Although my painting diverges from other annunciation scenes, the composition I created was done so with reverence towards the person, idol, and idea that is Mary. The inscription on her waist translates as "Bearer of the Immortal", a reference to Mary in either an Arab or Greek text that stuck with me.