The Proto-Renaissance Period: Break from Medieval Art, Rebirth of Classicism

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Topics: Italy
Chris Ronstad
Art History 102
July 11, 2013

The Proto-Renaissance period represents a gradual break from Medieval art into what is known as the rebirth of classicism and a shift to the natural. Giotto di Bondone is regarded as having been the grandfather of a rebirth and shift to a more naturalistic approach. His Madonna Enthroned created in 1310 when compared to Madonna and Child, created in 1350 by Nardo di Cione, demonstrates how far ahead of his time Giotto was and the influence he created. Both Madonna Enthroned and Madonna and Child depict The Virgin and God Incarnate in distinct manner. The technique applied by Giotto provided greater dimensionality and perspective to his pieces.
The Virgin and Christ Child are the main subjects of Giotto’s Madonna Enthroned. Surrounding them are angels and the prophets that foretold the coming of God in human form. God in child form is holding his hand up and offering a blessing while sitting upon the Virgin’s lap. Madonna, prophets, and the angels all have halos surrounding their heads. The child is the only one to have a nimbus. All the angels and prophets look towards them with two of the angels kneeling down before them in the foreground. The kneeling angels offer a bouquet of flowers.
Giotto’s Madonna Enthroned is the depiction of Theotokos. The Virgin being the mother of God, and God being shown in life form is the personification of this theme. Many of the altar pieces produced were intended to be portals. The nimbus surrounding the child’s head depicts Christ in the piece and the connection to him. All the halos around the other figures signify the holiness of The Virgin, prophets, and the angels. The flowers being offered by the angels symbolize purity, the coming sacrifice of God, and The Virgin being a rose among thorns.
Madonna Enthroned has influences of the Italo-Byzantine style mostly in the composition. The gold background is one of those ties to the Byzantine style as well.

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