Although I had studied art, and in particular, Italian art, it wasn't until I went to Siracusa (Syracuse) Italy that I truly discovered the work of Messina (1430-79).
Antonello da Messina is credited with bringing oil painting from Flanders to Italy, and is among Italy's principal artists. While he is best known for his portraits, many of which are in galleries or museums in Sicily and internationally, it is his Annunciation that had me enthralled and gaping like a 3 year old for more than hour at the Galleria Regionale di Palazzo Bellomo di Siracusa.
Rendered with tempera and oil on wood, the painting was in disrepair, with evident peeling and badly cracked, when I visited, and only a small wall hung replica provided the detail and colour Messina painted in the 15th century.
But even though the painting badly needs restoration, the two figures seemed as alive as if I was standing outside a window peering into a room eavesdropping on a personal conversation.
I thought about this painting today after reading an article on Russian icons and admiring some 21st century work by Igor and Marina, husband and wife, who paint luscious oils, uniquely and reminiscent of bygone days.