My favourite painting: Beatrice Grant

The Lord-Lieutenant of the County of Worcestershire chooses a Piero della Francesca masterpiece.

Beatrice Grant on her choice of ‘The Annunciation, detail from the Polyptych of St Anthony’ by Piero della Francesca

‘I love the Renaissance period for all its creativity, adventure and human emotion in art. One of the many paintings that stand out for me is The Annunciation. Della Francesca had an incredible understanding of space, measurement and proportion — all reflected in this painting. There is so much detail that always lures me in further.

‘The pure-white columns that make me want to run around them, the garden that I want to explore, the folds of the clothes, the texture of the feathers on the wings, the dove bathed in gold and the calmness of the figures. A piece of beauty and tranquillity.’

Beatrice Grant is His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of the County of Worcestershire. When she was appointed in March, she became the county’s first woman to hold the position.

Charlotte Mullins comments on The Annunciation

The 16th-century biographer Giorgio Vasari praised Piero della Francesca as ‘a great master of the problems of regular bodies, both arithmetical and geometrical’. The Tuscan spent time with polymath architect Leon Battista Alberti at the court of Urbino and studied the art of Paolo Uccello and Masaccio, all early experimenters with geometry and perspective. The Annunciation from the Polyptych of St Anthony is one of the finest examples of perspective painting from 15th-century Italy.

The angel Gabriel kneels before Mary as the Holy Spirit (in the form of a white dove) hovers above. Mary stands, head bowed, pious and demure, her finger still marking her page in the prayerbook she holds. Opposite her, the angel’s blue robe pools around him, his wings stilled. Between them a long colonnade recedes into the distance. It is here that we see della Francesca’s knowledge of perspective—each column shrinks as it recedes, our eye drawn ever further into the painting. Glimpses of a garden behind the classical architecture add further depth of field.

This painting sits at the top of the Polyptych of St Anthony, a multi-panelled work that had been started by another artist. Della Francesca was recruited to complete it in about 1460. The Virgin and saints in the central panels stand in front of solid gold backgrounds, encased in pointed frames more akin to the late-medieval style of International Gothic. By contrast, The Annunciation employs bright clear light, perspective and classicism and is a Renaissance masterpiece.

Recommended videos for you

My favourite painting: Frances Spalding

Art critic and historian Frances Spalding chooses an unusual work by Hans Holbein the Younger.

My Favourite Painting: Viscount William Astor

William Astor chooses a painting from an artist with whom he was lucky enough to have a personal connection: Sir

My favourite painting: Richard Anderson

Tailor Richard Anderson picks an image of a smartly-dressed gentleman.

My favourite painting: Debbie Wiseman

The composer and conductor picks Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso.

My Favourite Painting: Francesca Cumani

The racing correspondent and television presenter chooses a Lowry-esque take on the Melbourne Cup.

My Favourite Painting: Tony Hall

Lord Hall chooses a masterpiece by Della Francesca.

My Favourite Painting: Lachie Stewart

The architect Lachie Stewart chooses a Piero della Francesca masterpiece from the 15th century.

My favourite painting: Timothy Mowl

Timothy Mowl chooses The Brera Altarpiece by Piero della Francesca, a piece which he calls 'The Early Renaissance at its