Domenico Ghirlandaio 1449 – 1494

The Angel appears to Zacharias

fresco (c. 330 × 450 cm) — 1486-1490 Museum Santa Maria Novella, Florence

This work is linked to Luke 1:13

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The old priest Zacharias (Zechariah) is doing his duties in the temple when suddenly the angel Gabriel appears next to him. Gabriel tells Zacharias that he will soon become the father of a son who must be named John. The old man asks for a sign as he finds it hard to believe the angel. Gabriel then tells him he will not be able to speak until his son is born. When he leaves the temple Zacharias indeed is struck dumb.

Ghirlandaio turned the Jewish temple into a typical Renaissanced church. The many figures are representatives of the Florence government or of the Tornabuoni family. The weird position of the two front groups suggest that the government and the family wanted more people in the painting than Ghirlandaio could handle properly.

This fresco is part of the series Ghirlandaio made in the Tornabuoni family chapel in the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. All works in this series are about the life of John the Baptist.

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