"It is always a special occasion when a museum purchases an artwork closely related to a piece already in its collection. The acquisition of new works is among the main aims of our institution, as was often the case under our predecessors. At the end of the nineteenth century, during his Italian journeys, Károly Pulszky bought paintings and sculptures for the National Picture Gallery, the precursor to the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. These purchases, strongly focusing on Italian Renaissance art, still form the core of the museum’s collection of sculptures. In subsequent decades, the sculptors of many of Pulszky’s acquisitions were identified thanks to art historical research. One example is the strikingly beautiful, life-size terracotta statue of the Archangel Gabriel, which Pulszky bought in Florence from Emilio Costantini in 1895. Although the statue has always been associated with Sienese art, the artists – Lorenzo and Angelo di Mariano, members of an early cinquecento family of sculptors from Siena – were only identified in the 1970s. The Archangel Gabriel – together with a figure of the Virgin Mary – was once part of an Annunciation group, a popular subject of Sienese sculpture. We did not know anything about the statue of the Virgin until the early 2000s, when it was suggested that a privately owned terracotta Virgin may have been part of an Annunciation group together with the Budapest Gabriel. The statue of the Virgin then passed from one Italian private collection to another. A few years ago, the close connection between the two pieces came into focus again and was clarified, when the Virgin of the Annunciation was offered for purchase to the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest by the Maurizio Nobile Gallery. Finally, at the end of last year, due to the gallery’s flexibility, we were able to acquire the Virgin for our museum, thus it became possible to once again assemble the group of the Annunciation in our permanent exhibition. This volume is dedicated to this exceptional occasion, realised through the contribution of professor Giancarlo Gentilini with an excellent essay and that of professor Gabriele Fattorini with a study on the sculptors of the Mariano family. All their help was indispensable in producing this publication, which we heartily recommend to all art lovers."
Dr. László Baán Director General of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest