Former collection of Lisa and Heinrich Arnhold (1885-1935)
The work is a clear example of the refinement, exhuberance and level of technical sophistication attained in the manufacture of coral in late Baroque Trapani, and forces us to reconsider its classification as a “Minor Art”, now recognising it as a compendium of various art forms, resulting from the skill and virtuosity of local artisans. The piece is a dual-framed devotional plaque with a sculptural group depicting the Annunciation in the middle.
Despite the multiplicity of forms and compositional elements, we can observe how the artist has succesfully linked each of the work’s three levels without seeming unnatural or forced.
On the first level we observe a frame that is ornate with curvilinear movement, contrasting with the defined geommetry of the internal frame, where the Annunciation scene is located. Using gilt bronze as both support and connecting element throughout the entire work, we can appreciate, on this first, external level, acanthus-shaped motifs made of mother-of-pearl and coral inlay (Fig. 1). In the lower corner, superimposed over a bronze frame made up of plant motifs, we find an encrusted circular-shaped lapis lazuli contrasting with the (irregular) octagonal geommetry of the larger-scale encrusted lapis lazuli crowning the work at the top of the plaque.