XLI: Cimabue, Duccio, Giotto, Daddi, Pietro Lorenzetti

To those who may be receiving one of these post-notifications for the first time: This is not a blog; it’s actually part of a book, and will make little sense to you without knowledge of what has come before—which you can easily obtain, along with a goodly amount of satirical theatre as matters progress, by simply entering ttgftyri.org into your web browser, opening the menu, and starting at page one. J.J.

1. Madonna Enthroned with . . , Cimabue, ca. 1280
Church of San Francesco, Assisi

Cimabue’s Madonnas have a faint Byzantine look about them, at least in the slight downward tilt of Mary’s head and in her facial detail; but inasmuch as he chose to present her in a somewhat more human, social setting, if only as surrounded by a few angels, he also broke with the somber Byzantine style of composition and created a new, Italian one that ultimately launched—after thirteen long centuries of Christianity’s Doom-and-Gloom art—the renaissance, or ‘reawakening’ of Europe’s forty thousand year old tradition of nature-affirming art.

Cimabue was also the first European painter to almost always depict the Virgin clad in a blue mantle—or sometimes, just cloak or wrap—and red gown.

2. Virgin and Child with . . , Cimabue, ca. 1285
National Gallery, London
3. Madonna Enthroned with . . , Cimabue, 13th c.
Basilica di Santa Maria dei Servi, Bologna
4. Madonna Enthroned with . . , Cimabue
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
5. Maestà, Cimabue, ca. 1286
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
6. Virgin Enthroned with . . , Cimabue, ca. 1295
Musée du Louvre, Paris
7. Madonna and Child, Cimabue, 1280s
Museum of Santa Verdiana, Castelfiorientino, Italy
8. Madonna and Child, Cimabue, ca. 1295
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University
9. Madonna and Child, Cimabue (?), 13th c.
Church of Santa Maria Assunta, Positano, Italy
10. The Crcifixion, Cimabue, ca. 1300
Private Collection

11. The Natvity, Duccio, ca.1310
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Duccio di Buoninsegna, a painter who came along a generation after Cimabue and was easily his artistic equal, enthusiastically embraced the new Italian approach to depicting the Madonna.

But now, a quick word about the color blue. Originally, European painters were more or less forced to work with blues made from natural plant dyes, which were so unstable as to be very difficult for serious painters to work with. For one thing, they often cracked and eventually fell apart with age (see Nos. 8 thru 10 above); and then, no plant could yield the rich, deep shade of blue seen above in Mary’s wrap (No. 11).

Blues made from lapiz lazuli, howevera deep-blue stone that had to be brought all the way from Afghanistan, ground into powder, and finally made into aquamarine, the finest of all blue pigments and the one actually used in our wrapwas understandably very expensive; so expensive, that it was used sparingly, when at all. Indeed, one had to be wealthy to afford it; rather, most painters of that day either used the lighter, less brilliant blues derived from plant dyes, settled for blue-blacks, or simply resorted to some other color—in some cases, not excluding simple black itself.

And red is another color that could be very expensive for a painter to work with, depending upon whether it was made from minium (also called ‘red lead’), a relatively cheap pigment made by roasting white lead in the open air and watching it turn yellow and then an orangy shade of red (it was actually called red-orange back in the day), but fades back through yellow almost to its original white over time; ground-up cinnabar, a costly mineral that creates a brilliant, but very pricey vermillion red, notwithstanding that when exposed to too much sunlight, it darkens almost to black; or cochineal bugs, which had to be imported from the cactus country of Mexico—for a few centuries, actually making it the third most valuable New World export—but when dried and ground-up, creates a distinctive carmine red.

See some examples of these below.

Red-orange (note fade to yellow in places)
Red-orange faded almost to white.

So now back to Duccio.

12. Adoration of the Magi, Duccio, ca. 1310
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena
13. Flight into Egypt, Duccio, ca. 1310
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena
14. Presentation in the Temple, Duccio, ca. 1310
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena
15. Madonna of the Franciscans, Duccio, ca. 1300
Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena
16. Madonna and Child, Duccio, after 1285
Galleria Sabauda, Turin
17. Maestà, Duccio, ca. 1310
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena
18. Crucifixion, Duccio, 1310s
City Art Gallery, Manchester
19. Death of the Virgin, Duccio, ca. 1310
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena
20. Burial of the Virgin, Duccio, ca. 1310
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena

21. Maestà, Giotto, ca. 1310
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

The architect and painter Giotto di Bondone, more or less a contemporary of Duccio but some six years younger, is credited by the 16th-century art-historian Giorgio Vasari—the first historian to use the word ‘Renaissance’ in print to describe what was happening in Italian art back then—as the painter who actually made the decisive break with the prevalent Byzantine style in Italy and initiated the “art of painting as we know it today, introducing the technique of drawing accurately from life . . .”

Too bad for us that he had so much trouble with those weak, plant-based blues.

22. Nativity, Giotto, ca, 1303
Scrovegni Chapel, Padua
23. Adoration of the Magi, Giotto, ca. 1320
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
24. Flight into Egypt, Giotto, ca. 1304
Arena Chapel, Padua 
25. Flight into Egypt, Giotto, ca. 1310s
Basilica of San Francisco, Assisi
26. Madonna and Child, Giotto, 1297
Private Collection 
27. Madonna and Child, Giotto,, ca. 1300
Church of San Giorgio alla CostaFlorence
28. Virgin and Child, Giotto, 1267
Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
29. Virgin and Child, Giotto, ca. 1315
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
30. Virgin and Child with . . , Giotto, ca. 1320
Private Collection 

31. Annunciation, Bernardo Daddi, ca. 1335
Louvre, Paris 

Bernardo Daddi, who followed Giotto by four years, also created many depictions of the Madonna—and pretty much carried the new Italian color scheme forward.

32. Nativity, Bernardo Daddi, ca. 1340
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
33. Triptych, Bernardo Daddi, 1338
Courtauld Gallery, London
34. Madonna and Child, Bernardo Daddi, ca. 1338
Lindenau-Museum, Altenburg
35. Madonna and Child, Bernardo Daddi, ca. 1343
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
36. Madonna and Child, Bernardo Daddi, ca. 1346
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
37. Madonna and Child with . . , Bernardo Daddi, ca. 1347
Church of Orsanmichele, Florence 
38. Crucifixion, Bernardo Daddi, ca. 1340
Private Collection, Venice
39. Crucifixion, Bernardo Daddi, ca. 1328
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
40. Coronation of the Virgin, Bernardo Daddi, ca. 1343
National Gallery, London

As we proceed, it certainly wouldn’t be fair to show you only those paintings where the Virgin is portrayed wearing a blue mantle and red gown, lest you get the impression that she was never portrayed clad in other colors by the Renaissance painters; but on the other hand, as we approach the end of our journey it’s necessary that you come to understand just how saturated the Madonna paintings of that whole, four hundred year period were with that particular color scheme—in Italy, and eventually throughout all Catholic Europe—for a reason that will soon become clear.

And so without further comment, here are just those paintings that would ultimately reveal that reason—with the caveat that while all of them depict the Virgin clad in various shades of the colors at issue here (or in cases where her gown isn’t showing, at least the blue, ranging all the way to near-black), just about every painter in Catholic Europe is found to have veered from them a few times during their career—but truly, very few; say, at the height of the Renaissance, in less than five percent of their representations.

41. Annunciation, Pietro Lorenzetti. 1342
42. Annunciation, Pietro Lorenzetti. 1344
43: Madonna and Child, Pietro Lorenzetti, 14th c.
Museo d’Arte Sacra della Val d’Arbia, Buonconvento
44. Madonna Enthroned with . . , Pietro Lorenzetti, 1340
Uffizi, Florence
45. Madonna and Child, Pietro Lorenzetti, 14th c.
Museo d’Arte Sacra della Val d’Arbia
46. Madonna and Child, Pietro Lorenzetti, ca. 1340s
Musei Civici Fiorentini
47. Madonna and Child, Pietro Lorenzettij, 14th c.
Private Collection, Milan
48. Madonna and Child, Pietro Lorenzetti, 14th c.
Church of Sant’Angelo, Florence 
49. Crucifixion, Pietro Lorenzetti, 1340s
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 
50. Crucifix (detail), Pietro Lorenzetti, ca. 1320
Museo Diocesano, Cortona


1: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/html_m/c/cimabue/madonna/index.htm

2: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/html_m/c/cimabue/madonna/index.html

3: Wikimedia https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cimabue,_maest%C3%A0_di_santa_maria_dei_servi.jpg#mw-jump-to-license

4: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/html_m/c/cimabue/madonna/index.html

5: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/html_m/c/cimabue/madonna/index.html

6: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/html_m/c/cimabue/madonna/index.html

7: Wikimedia https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Madonna_di_Castelfiorentino

8: Wikimedia https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Virgin_and_Child,Circle_of_Cenni_di_Pepo,_called_Cimabue,_Italy,_c._1295,_tempera_on_panelFogg_Art_Museum,_Harvard_University-_DSC01009.jpg#mw-jump-to-license

9: Wikimedia https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Cimabue#/media/File%3AVergine_con_Bambino%2C_Cimabue_o_Giotto.jpg

10: Wikimedia https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anonimo_veneziano_sec.XIII_XIV-_Crocifissione_di_Cristo,_Collezione_privata,_Firenze.jpg#mw-jump-to-license

11: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

12: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

13: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

14: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

15: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

16: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

17: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

18: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

19: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

20: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

21: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/g/giotto/z_panel/2panel/40maesta.html

22: Wikipedia Commons https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giotto_-Scrovegni-17--_Nativity,_Birth_of_Jesus.jpg

23: Metropolitan Museum of Art https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436504

24: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

25: WikiArt https://www.wikiart.org/en/giotto/flight-into-egypt-1

26: ArtNet News https://news.artnet.com/art-world/giotto-painting-uk-1324175

27: Traveling in Tucany http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/giotto/madonnaofsangiorgio.htm

28: Art UK https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/the-virgin-and-child-142047

29: National Gallery of Art https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.397.html

30: The Getty Iris https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/everyones-talking-about-giotto/

31: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

32: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

33: Courtauld Institute of Art https://courtauld.ac.uk/event/lunchtime-talk-bernardo-daddi-triptych-virgin-and-child-200418

34: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

35: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

36: Britannica https://www.britannica.com/biography/Bernardo-Daddi

37: Wikimedia Commons https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bernardo_Daddi_-Orsanmichele_Madonna_and_Child_with_Angels-_WGA05863.jpg

38: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

39: Metropolitan Museum of Art https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/438423

40: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

41: Saylingaway https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/l-ambrogio-lorenzetti/

42: Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/pin/513551163730728565/?nic_v1=1bbHwwXUqdNXmwaXbMVV0MS5ToKv7yUokGCC4fRH%2Fi8r45jX1C2iAghJobUrh98FxC

43: Wikimedia Commons https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pietro_Lorenzetti,_Madonna_col_Bambino,_Buonconvento_2.jpg

44: Wikimedia Commons https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museo_d%27Arte_Sacra_della_Val_d%27Arbia

45: IZI Travel https://izi.travel/en/5572-musei-civici-fiorentini/en

46: Traveling in Tuscany http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/pietrolorenzetti.htm

47: Artribute https://www.artribune.com/report/2014/08/fabriano-ritrova-luce-con-una-grande-mostra-griffata-sgarbi/attachment/5-585/

48: Painting-planet https://painting-planet.com/madonna-of-vico-l-abate-by-pietro-lorenzetti/

49: The Metropolitan Museum of Art https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/438605

50: Web Gallery of Art https://www.wga.hu/index1.html

2 thoughts on “XLI: Cimabue, Duccio, Giotto, Daddi, Pietro Lorenzetti

    1. Thanks for your comment; but there’s a point to all these photos, and if you don’t start from the first page of the book, you’re going to miss it entirely. Warm regards, J.J.


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