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Close Up: Piermatteo D'Amelia's Annunciation

A new exhibition program, Close Up, features a single work in Isabella Stewart Gardner’s collection. Removed from the historic Palace and displayed in Hostetter Gallery for a short time, it is the subject of lectures, in-gallery presentations and a publication. To inaugurate the exhibition series, we chose a painting close to Isabella’s heart, an altarpiece of The Annunciation by Italian Renaissance painter Piermatteo d’Amelia, traditionally found in our Raphael Room.

While Gardner fell in love with this Annunciation, its history was only revealed after her death. This book recounts three fascinating stories behind this work of art: the riveting tales of its acquisition, its attribution, and its painter. These stories take us back through half a millennium of history, from the false compartment of a smuggler’s trunk on a train bound for Paris to the high altar of a tiny hermitage in rural Italy, with a brief detour to the Sistine Chapel. Like the exhibition, this book offers fresh perspectives on The Annunciation, shedding new light on a familiar masterpiece.


By Nathaniel Silver, Associate Curator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
60 pages
Published by Applewood Books, 2016
Paperback 
5.5 x 0.2 x 8.2 inches