During the thirteenth century, the art of the Catholic West and Orthodox East intermingled, resulting in a Byzantine style in Italy. This icon or "holy image," probably painted by a Greek artist working in Italy, is a perfect example of this fusion. Known also as the "Kahn Madonna" from the name of the previous owner, the large panel represents a full-length figure of Mary enthroned as Queen of Heaven. She holds the infant Christ who, true to medieval convention, is a miniature adult. In the flanking medallions, archangels hold orbs and scepters, emphasizing Mary's imperial role. In this, the "Hodegetria" type of Madonna, she directs the viewer's attention to Christ, thus pointing the way to salvation.
There are distinct similarities in style and subject matter between this painting and the Byzantine icons painted in the East for the Greek Orthodox Church. The graceful movement of the figures, the gold striations on the drapery which simulate shimmering light, and the flowing, rhythmic lines identify the artist as a Greek painter. But an Italian influence is notable in the tooled decoration of the halos, the perspective of the wooden throne with its high back, the delicate gradations of light and shade, and the distinctly Tuscan scheme of the rectangular panel with a full-length depiction of the enthroned Virgin.
Marks and Labels
Said to have come from a church, or convent, in Calahorra (province of La Rioja, Spain); (Herbert P. Weissburger, Madrid), in 1912; (Emile Pares, Madrid, Paris, and New York); (his sale, Anderson Galleries, New York, 18-19 February 1915, 2nd day, no. 306, as by Giovanni Cimabue); sold 26 November 1915 to (F. Kleinberger & Co., New York). Otto Kahn [1867-1934], New York, by 1917; by inheritance to his widow, Addie Wolff Kahn [d. 1949], New York; gift 1949 to NGA.
- Loan Exhibition of Italian Primitives, F. Kleinberger Galleries, New York, 1917, no. 69, repro., as The Madonna and Child by Pietro Cavallini.
- Einstein, Lewis. Looking at Italian Pictures in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1951: 12-15, repro., as Enthroned Madonna and Child.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1956: 7, repro.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): 3-4, pl. 2
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 64, repro.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 21
- European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 14, repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 50, repro.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: I:96-99, II:pl. 66
- Belting, Hans. "The 'Byzantine' Madonnas: New Facts about Their Italian Origin and Some Observations on Duccio." Studies in the History of Art 12 (1982): 8ff, repro.
- Hoenigswald, Ann. "The 'Byzantine' Madonnas: Technical Investigation." Studies in the History of Art 12 (1982): 25+, repro.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 64, no. 1, color repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 23, repro.
- Folda, Jaroslav. "The Kahn and Mellon Madonnas: Icons or Altarpieces?" in Research Reports and Record of Activities, National Gallery of Art, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, 7 (1987): 57+.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 10, repro.
- Folda, Jaroslav. "The Kahn and Mellon Madonnas: Icon or Altarpiece?" in Byzantine East, Latin West. Art-Historical Studies in Honor of Kurt Weitzmann. Princeton, 1995:501+, repro.
- Cracraft, James. The Petrine Revolution in Russian Imagery, Chicago and London, 1997: no. 1, repro.
- Dini, Giulietta Chelazzi, Alessandro Angelini, and Bernardina Sani. Sienese Painting From Duccio to the Birth of the Baroque. New York: 1997: 26, 177 n. 16.
- Kirsh, Andrea, and Levenson, Rustin S. Seeing Through Paintings: Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies. Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies, vol. 1. New Haven, 2000: 179-180, fig. 188.
- Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 4-5, no. 1, color repro.
- Harris, Neil. Capital Culture: J. Carter Brown, the National Gallery of Art, and the Reinvention of the Museum Experience. Chicago, 2013: 246, 250.
Work of Art
Work of Art
- Event Name
- March 1–June 1
- Mon, Tues, and Wed at 1:00
- March 5, 2012 at 2:00
March 7, 2012 at 4:00
- East Building, Auditorium
- Name of docent
- 60 minutes
- Registration for this event begins on April 1, 2012 at noon.
- Download the program notes (100k)
- Italian Collection