Giovanni di Paolo, one of the most important figures in the history of Sienese painting, was active for much of the fifteenth century. This panel is the first episode of an ambitious narrative cycle: a series of twelve scenes from the Life of Saint John the Baptist, distributed in four vertical rows of three scenes each. Although the original function and location of the cycle are unknown, it is likely that the panels formed two movable wings of a cupboard or custodia containing a sculpture or reliquary of Saint John the Baptist. The Annunciation to Zacharias, taken from the Gospel of Saint Luke (1:5-25), recounts the moment at which the Angel Gabriel foretells the birth of a son, John the Baptist, to the childless Zacharias. The incredulous Zacharias performs his priestly duties in an elaborate architectural setting whose domes and lantern recall Brunelleschi's celebrated cupola which crowns the Duomo in Florence.
Cardinal Rinaldi, Naples (see below); Principe Santangelo, Naples (see the Catalogo della pinacoteca dei Marchesi Santangelo di Napoli, 1876, pp. 17-18, where the panel is attributed to Taddeo Gaddi, with Cardinal Rinaldi named as the owner in the 17th century; no further panels of this series are listed, but the two panels at Münster were bought from the dealer Maurer in 1898 with a Santangelo provenance); private collection, Rome (P. Schubring, "Opere sconosciute," p. 163, n.); Attilio Simonetti, Rome; purchased by Philip Lehman in 1914 (F. M. Perkins, "Dipinti senesi sconosciuti o inediti," Rassegna d'arte 14, 1914, p. 163); Pauline Ickleheimer, New York. Acquired by Robert Lehman in 1946.
Paul Schubring. "Opere sconosciute di Giovanni di Paolo e del Vecchietta." Rassegna d'arte, 12 (1912), p. 162.
Joseph Breck. "Some Paintings by Giovanni di Paolo: I." Art in America, 2 (April 1914), pp. 280-283. Fig. 2.
Giacomo De Nicola. "The Masterpiece of Giovanni di Paolo." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs , 33 (1918), pp. 45-54. Pl. 1.
Collection of Mediaeval and Renaissance Paintings. Cambridge, Mass., 1919.
Helen Comstock. "Paintings by Giovanni di Paolo in America." International Studio, 87 (1927), pp. 49, 51-52.
Robert Lehman. The Philip Lehman Collection, New York: Paintings. Paris, 1928, Pl. 46
Lionello Venturi. Pitture italiane in America. Milan, 1931, p. 135.
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 246.
Marialuisa Gengaro. "Eclettismo e arte nel Quattrocento senese." La Diana, 7 (1932), pp. 15-16, 30-31. Pl. 8.
John Pope-Hennessy. Giovanni di Paolo, 1403–1483. London, 1937, pp. 80-83, 89.
Robert Langton Douglas. "Review of Pope-Hennessy 1937." Burlington Magazine, 72 (1938), p. 43.
Helen Frances Mackenzie. "Panels by Giovanni di Paolo of Siena." Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago , 32 (1938), pp. 106-109.
Cesare Brandi. Giovanni di Paolo. Florence, 1947, pp. 44-45, 82.
Paintings and Bronzes from the Collection of Mr. Robert Lehman. Exh. cat., Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Colorado Springs, 1951, Pl. 10
George Kaftal. Iconography of the Saints in Tuscan Painting. Florence, 1952, p. 555.
The Lehman Collection. Exh. cat., Cincinnati, 1959, p. 15, no. 39.
Enzo Carli. "Problemi e restauri di Giovanni di Paolo." Pantheon, 19 (1961), pp. 163-174.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. Vol. 1, London, 1968, p. 178.
Katharine Baetjer. Giovanni di Paolo: Paintings. Exh. cat., New York, 1973, no. 12.
Millard Meiss. Three Loans from the Norton Simon Foundation. Exh. cat., Princeton, 1973.
Millard Meiss. "A New Panel by Giovanni di Paolo from his Altar-piece of the Baptist." The Burlington Magazine, 116 (1974), pp. 73-74, 77.
George Szabó. The Robert Lehman Collection: A Guide. New York, 1975, p. 15, pl. 18.
Marvin Eisenberg. Studies in Late Medieval and Renaissance Painting in Honor of Millard Meiss . Vol. 1, New York, 1977, p. 143.
Sotheby's, New York. Beaux Tableaux Anciens. Monte Carlo, 1982, p. 26, under lot 14.
Enzo Carli. Il Gotico a Siena: miniature, pitture, oreficerie, oggetti d’arte. Exh. cat., Florence, 1982, p. 352.
Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris. "Naddo Ceccarelli." L' Art gothique siennois: enluminure, peinture, orfèvrerie,
. Exh. cat., Florence, 1983, pp. 262-263.
John Pope-Hennessy assisted by Laurence B. Kanter inThe Robert Lehman Collection. Vol. 1, Italian Paintings. New York, 1987, pp. 121-124, no. 50.
Keith Christiansen inPainting in Renaissance Siena: 1420–1500. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1988, no. 37.
John Pope-Hennessy. "Giovanni di Paolo." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 46 (Fall 1988), pp. 20-22, no. 25.
Christopher Lloyd. Italian Paintings before 1600 in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Collection. Chicago, 1993, pp. 122-125, 127 n. 22. Figs. 4 and 5.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 55.
Esther Moench. Avignon, Musée du Petit Palais: Peintures et Sculptures. Paris, 1999, Under "La Prédication de saint Jean-Baptiste.”.
Michel Laclotte and Esther Moench. Peinture italienne: musée du Petit Palais Avignon. new ed. Paris, 2005.
"Giovanni di Paolo (Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia): The Annunciation to Zacharias; (verso) The Angel of the Annunciation (1975.1.37)." Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. 2006.
Anna Maria Guiducci and Dominique Vingtain. L’héritage artistique de Simone Martini: Avignon-Sienne. Exh. cat., Avignon, 2009, p. 92.