Category: Jason Wilson


Title: Madonna of the Golden Finch

Date: 1506

Location of the work: Uffizi Museum

Medium: Tempera on wood

Approximate dimensions of work: 107 x 77

The Madonna of the Golden Finch is arguably Raphael’s most famous Madonna and Child painting. Originally this painting was commissioned for Lorenzo di Bartolomeo Nasi’s wedding in 1506. In 1574 it was badly damaged, in the collapse of the Nasi home and was restored later.

In this painting Mary is portrayed in her traditional red and blue garb. As he often did Rafael depicted Mary as a loving gazing down at John and Jesus. John appears to be handing Jesus a bird. At first glance this is a cute scene, but when examined more closely it is fraught with symbolism.  Mary’s traditional blue mantle represents purity. John is depicted in his traditional camel skin garb which references the garb he wore when he was preaching in the wilderness. The bird that John is handing Jesus is a golden finch which is a symbol of Christ’s Passion and death on the cross. This Symbolism comes from the fact that the golden finch feeds among thorns and thistles, which could be references to the crown of thorns or the nails in Jesus hands and feet.

References:
“Uffizi Florence-Great Museums of the Word”
http://www.virtualuffizi.com

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Title: Madonna of Foligno

Madonna of Foligno

Date:  1511-12

Location of the work: Vatican Museum

Medium: “Tempera grassa” on wood

Approximate dimensions of work: 308cm x 198cm

The Madonna of Foligno by Raffaello Sanzo is one of his many Madonna and Child paintings. This was commissioned by a prominent humanist by the name of Sigismonde de’ Conti in thanks to Marry for saving his house after it was struck by lightning. In this Madonna and Child painting five other characters are portrayed. Saint John the Baptist stands at the far left, in front of Saint John is Saint Francis kneeling. On the right side we se Sigismondo also kneeling and Saint Jerome standing over him with an angel in the middle. This particular portrayal of Madonna and Child portray them as coming out of the clouds of heaven as to depict that they are part of a vision.

The bright Colors in this painting are typical of the renaissance, but Raphael is known for his remarkably vivid pigments. The triangular layout of the figures portrayed here is something that Raphael picked up from Leonardo after studying some of his works.

References: info:  http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/x-Schede/PINs/PINs_Sala08_04_031.html

Image: http://www.lib-art.com/imgpainting/1/6/15761-the-madonna-of-foligno-raffaello-sanzio.jpg

Title: The Ognissanti Madonna

Date: 1310

Location of the work: Uffizi Museum

Medium: Tempera on panel

Approximate dimensions of work: 10ft 8in x 6ft 8 ¼in

The third and final painting in this trio is Giotto’s version of Madonna and Child in Majesty. This painting marks the end of an era. With Giotto’s work stops using the former practice of using symbols to make a two dimensional picture, and starts to paint people. Giotto takes what Cimabue started with showing Mary’s knee and applies it throughout the whole painting. In this Madonna and Child the viewer can see that Mary and Jesus both have curves and shapes underneath their robes. Before this point the figures in a painting were only symbols of the characters, not representations. Giotto’s work changed that, now paintings were not only a representation of the characters, but it also brought with it a desire for physical accuracy. This can be seen in everything from the way the angels recede into the background to the way Jesus’ robes fall over his legs.

References:

“Uffizi Florence-Great Museums of the Word”
http://www.virtualuffizi.com

Title: The Rucellai Madonna

Date: 1310

Location of the work: Uffizi Museum

Medium: Tempera on panel

Approximate dimensions of work: 10ft 8in x 6ft 8 ¼in

The second painting in the gallery with Cimabue’s Maesta of Santa Trinita is Duccio’s painting of the same subject. This Painting has received significantly less attention than the Cimabue and Giotto pantings that are next to it. This Painting more closely resembles the byzantine art of the previous era. The two dimensionality and objects independence from one another are typical of this era. The depiction of angels with one over top of the other and the way Mary floats over her chair without actually seeming to sit in it are examples of these traits. Also note how Mary seems to disappear into her robes so that you cannot see her body underneath, this contrast with Cimabue’s work where he began to articulate the human body.

References:

“Uffizi Florence-Great Museums of the Word”
http://www.virtualuffizi.com

Title: Maesta of Santa Trinita

Madonna and Child by Cimabue

Date: 1280-1290

Location of the work: Uffizi Museum

Medium: Tempera on panel

Approximate dimensions of work: 12ft 7 ½in x 7ft 3 ¾in

This Madonna and Child in Majesty painting by Cimabue is currently being displayed in the Uffizi Museum in Florence Italy in Room Two: The 13th Century and Giotto. It is alongside two other similar works, all three are Madonna and Child in Majesty’s. Two of these paintings, the Cimabue and Giotto, were alter pieces while the Duccio was not. The Duccio is never the less displayed alongside them due to, not only the similar time period, but also the similar theme of the Madonna and Child in Majesty.

Cimabue was born in Florence sometime in the 1240’s AD. He was heralded as a master of his time and his paintings were considered to be revolutionarily humanistic. In this Painting you can see that a sense of depth is returning to art as the angels overlap instead of being stacked on top of one another. Another attribute that sets this painting apart from its contemporaries is that Mary and Jesus have physical definition to their bodies rather than their bodies disappearing into their robes. An example of this is how Mary’s robes conform to her knee so that the viewer can tell where her leg is. Two features that set this Madonna and Child apart from the rest are how Jesus’ face is depicted as uncharacteristically old for a baby and that His hand is raised in the sign of blessing.

References:
“Uffizi Florence-Great Museums of the Word”
http://www.virtualuffizi.com