Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gardner: Chapter 14, 406-412
Vasari: Cimabue, Duccio, Giotto

Cimabue, Madonna Enthroned With Angels and Prophets
Gardner suggests you  notice how the use of gold as an embellishment is not merely decorative, but is used to enhance the three-dimensionality of the robe as evidence of the evolution toward a more naturalistic style. Nonetheless, the figures are hardly human, with the baby's trunk quite distorted. No one is drawing from life models at  this point.
Giotto di Bondone, Madonna Enthroned
Not sure you'd want this no nonsense Mary for your mother, and the baby still looks more like a leg of lamb than the lamb of God, but the figures are more recognisably human than in the Cimabue  work. Gardner sez: "his figures have dimensionality, substance and bulk, and give the illusion that they could throw shadows", and I guess they do.
Vasari places these two artists among those of his first group: those struggling to emerge from the barbarism of pre-Rennaisance times:  "anyone who will consider the nature of the times in which they lived, the scarcity of artisans, and the difficulty of finding good assistants will hold their works to  be not only beautiful (as I have stated) but miraculous..."

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