The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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The Archangel Gabriel descends from God to tell the Virgin that she is to bear a child – a moment known as the Annunciation – but has been distracted from his mission by a bishop saint, who has stopped him in the street of a Renaissance town. This is Saint Emidius, patron saint of the town of Ascoli Piceno in the Italian Marches. This painting is unique in showing a local saint effectively intervening in a biblical event.

Ascoli was ruled by the pope but was granted a degree of self-government in 1482. The news arrived on 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation. From this time onward this feast was celebrated with a great procession to the convent of the Observant Friars, for whom this altarpiece was made.

The coats of arms along the base are those of the pope, the town and its bishop, while the inscription, ‘LIBERTAS ECCLESIASTICA’, was the title of the papal bull granting Ascoli its rights.

The National Gallery, London



The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius




Egg and oil on canvas


H 207 x W 146.7 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Presented by Lord Taunton, 1864

Work type



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