Cimabue vs. Giotto Di Bondone

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ASSIGNMENT #1- OPTION 4

ARTWORK

Giotto di Bondone, Madonna and Child Enthroned (ca. 1310), 10’ 6” Cimabue, Madonna and Child with Angels and Prophets (ca. 1280-1290), 12’ 7” X 7’ 4”.

Madonna and Child with Angels and Prophets, an alter piece standing some 12 feet and 7 inches tall, was created around 1280-1290 A.D. for the Church of Santa Trinità in Florence, Italy and is now in the Galleria delgi Uffizi Florence. This iconographical piece was constructed through tempera and gold leaf on wood by Cimabue, an Italian painter who brought classical tradition back into art during the 13th century, when Italo-Byzantine style was dominant, paving the way for art in the Renaissance period. Madonna Enthroned, standing 10 feet and 6 inches tall, nearly the same grand scale (only 2 feet shorter then Cimabue’s similar piece), is a panel created by Giotto di Bondone. Produced in 1310 A.D. for the Church of Ognissanti in Florence, Italy, this piece reproduces many of the elements incorporated in the aforementioned piece by Cimabue but in a much more naturalistic manner cohesive with the art created in this period deemed the Renaissance. Madonna Enthroned is also an iconographical piece created through tempera and gold leaf on wood and is now located in the Galleria delgi Uffizi in Florence. Figures in the period of Byzantine art are characterized by their stylistic nature. Adhering to strict medieval values, art was meant to evoke reflection and interpretation regarding symbolism, especially within religious pieces, which could only be transpire through stylistic methods. They were, in majority, flat, one-dimensional forms with elongated faces, unnaturally large, vacuous eyes, and generally unexpressive. The lack of light and shadowing in pieces from this period also add to its idealistic nature. Cimabue challenges this through his use of depth and foreshortening. Madonna’s throne seems to recede into the background, shown through both foreshortening and through the realistic elevated formation of the stairs beneath her feet. The cocked heads of the two outside prophets in the bottom register also denote a unique sense of depth to this time, appearing as if they are craning their necks outwards from their separated room to see up and around the ceiling to Madonna and Christ. The overlapping of the angels on either side of Madonna and her Child also indicate this motion towards realism, straying away from the common linear, separated representation of figures. The 14th century brought with it humanism in art due to a shift in cultural focus from medieval values to Greco-Roman morality, highlighting education, making the glory of God clearer through more concise imagery, scientific methods of thinking, and overall, realism. It was during this period that Giotto di Bondone created his Madonna Enthroned. Giotto is considered a transitory artist, uniting the Gothic styles of previous centuries and the art of the early Renaissance. The focus was now upon humanistic values, veering away from the common ethereal values present in 13th century Byzantine art. We see the realism in Giotto’s piece, similarly, through the creation of depth and foreshortening but also through shadows and lighting. Like Cimabue’s piece, Madonna’s throne recedes into space and the surrounding figures overlap one another. What differentiates the realism in Giotto’s piece is the use of chiaroscuro, the treatment of light and shade in a painting. As the figures surrounding Madonna’s throne get deeper into the picture, they are seen in darker shades, suggesting the presence of a shadow. This is also seen within the depths of Madonna’s throne as it darkens the further back it recedes. This creates a much more substantial sense of depth then in Cimabue’s piece. The front of the throne, where the two angels kneel, is the lightest, indicating the most exposed area- the forefront- of the image. We also see a lot more modeling lines in the...
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