Gentile da Fabriano (artist)|
Italian, c. 1370 - 1427
Madonna and Child Enthroned, c. 1420
tempera on panel
overall: 95.7 x 56.5 cm (37 11/16 x 22 1/4 in.) framed: 108.6 x 64.8 x 8.9 cm (42 3/4 x 25 1/2 x 3 1/2 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
Object 3 of 10
With one hand the infant Jesus tethers a butterfly, a traditional symbol of his resurrection, while pointing with the other to the neck of his mother's dress, where the word mater (Latin "mother") is spelled out in rich embroidery. Gentile's style, cosmopolitan and refined, reflects his work for princes and wealthy churchmen, as well as the influence of his travels. Born in central Italy, he worked in Venice, Florence, and then Siena before finally following the pope to Rome. Probably this panel was painted shortly after he arrived in Florence—its tooled gold decoration is similar to Florentine work, and the inscriptions point to the city's humanistic schools.
Its rich colors and textured gold surfaces are typical of the International Style's decorative and aristocratic manner. Note, for example, the sumptuous fabric of Mary’s sleeve and the wispy angels, barely visible, that are inscribed into the surface of the gold. The silhouette of the mother and child creates a complex and rhythmic line to which the gold-embroidered hem of Mary's gown (reading Ave Maria gratia plena…, "Hail Mary full of grace…") curls in a bright counterpoint. Nevertheless, the figures have convincing form and their dainty faces are carefully modeled with shadow and light. Gentile’s contemporaries praised his naturalism.
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