Overview

Giotto's explorations and innovations in art during the early fourteenth century developed, a full century later, into the Italian Renaissance. Besides making panel paintings, he executed many fresco cycles, the most famous at the Arena Chapel, Padua, and he also worked as an architect and sculptor.

Transformed by Giotto, the stylized figures in paintings such as the Enthroned Madonna and Child took on human, believable qualities. Whereas his Sienese contemporary Duccio concentrated on line, pattern, and shape arranged on a flat plane, the Florentine Giotto emphasized mass and volume, a classical approach to form. By giving his figures a blocky, corporeal character, the artist introduced great three-dimensional plasticity to painting.

Painted during the latter part of Giotto's career, the Madonna and Child was the central part of a five-section polyptych, or altarpiece in many panels. Giotto utilized a conservative Byzantine-style background in gold leaf, symbolizing the realm of heaven, and the white rose is a traditional symbol of Mary's purity as well as a reference to the innocence lost through Original Sin. Yet, the Madonna and Child introduces a new naturalistic trend in painting. Instead of making the blessing gesture of a philosopher, the infant Christ grasps his mother's left index finger in a typically babylike way as he playfully reaches for the flower that she holds.

Inscription

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Probably commissioned for the church of Santa Croce or the church of Ognissanti, both Florence.[1] Edouard-Alexandre de Max [1869-1924], Paris;[2] sold 1917 to (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris); sold to Henry Goldman [1857-1937], New York, by 1920;[3] sold 1 February 1937 back to (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris);[4] sold 1939 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[5] gift 1939 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1920
Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1920, unnumbered catalogue, as by Bernardo Daddi.
1924
Loan Exhibition of Important Early Italian Paintings in the Possession of Notable American Collectors, Duveen Brothers, New York, 1924, no. 15, as by Bernardo Daddi (no. 2 in illustrated 1926 version of catalogue, as by Giotto, or an Assistant).
1930
Exhibition of Italian Art 1200-1900, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1930, no. 16, as Attributed to Giotto (no. 8, pl. V in commemorative catalogue published 1931; not in souvenir catalogue).
1979
Berenson and the Connoisseurship of Italian Painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1979, no. 43, repro.

Bibliography

1923
Marle, Raimond van. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. 19 vols. The Hague, 1923-1938: 3(1924):190, fig. 112.
1931
Venturi, Lionello. Pitture italiane in America. Milan, 1931: no. 26, repro.
1932
Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and their Works with an Index of Places. Oxford, 1932: 236.
1933
Venturi, Lionello. Italian Paintings in America. 3 vols. Translated by Countess Vanden Heuvel and Charles Marriott. New York and Milan, 1933: 1:no. 32, repro.
1941
Duveen Brothers. Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941: no. 11, repro.
1941
National Gallery of Art. Book of Illustrations. Washington, DC, 1941: 113 (repro.), 241.
1941
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 80, no. 367, pl. VI.
1941
Richter, George Martin. "The New National Gallery in Washington." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 78 (June 1941): 177, 179, pl. B.
1942
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 247, repro. 115.
1944
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1944: 18, color repro.
1944
Frankfurter, Alfred M. The Kress Collection in the National Gallery. New York, 1944: 13, repro.
1945
Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1945 (reprinted 1947, 1949): 11, repro.
1951
Einstein, Lewis. Looking at Italian Pictures in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1951: 18-20, repro.
1951
Galetti, Ugo, and Ettore Camesasca. Enciclopedia della pittura italiana. 3 vols. Milan, 1951: 2:1137.
1951
Toesca, Pietro. Il Trecento. Storia dell’arte italiana, 2. Turin, 1951: 608, 609.
1954
Shorr, Dorothy C. The Christ Child in Devotional Images in Italy During the XIV Century. New York, 1954: 110, 111, repro. 114.
1956
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1956: 14, color repro.
1959
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 18, repro.
1959
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Early Italian Painting in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1959 (Booklet Number Three in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.): 16, color repro.
1960
The National Gallery of Art and Its Collections. Foreword by Perry B. Cott and notes by Otto Stelzer. National Gallery of Art, Washington (undated, 1960s): 19.
1961
Seymour 1961 (Kress), 4-6, color repro.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 68, repro.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 58
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 1:8, color repro.
1966
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XIII-XV Century. London, 1966: 20-22, fig. 41-42.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 51, repro.
1969
Bologna, Ferdinando. I pittori alla corte angioina di Napoli, 1266-1414, e un riesame dell’arte nell’età fridericiana. Rome, 1969: 199, 229 n. 81.
1972
Fredericksen, Burton B., and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972: 87, 311, 645, 661.
1974
Pesenti, Franco Renzo. "Dismembered works of art - Italian painting." In An Illustrated Inventory of Famous Dismembered Works of Art: European Painting. Paris, 1974: 20, 28-29, repro.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 154, repro.
1979
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: I:219-221, II:pl. 149
1979
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 19, pl. 2.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 71, no. 10, color repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 177, repro.
1991
Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 185, 188, color repro.
1991
"The National Gallery of Art, Washington: fifty years." Apollo 133, no. 349 (March 1991):156, repro.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 12, repro.
1998
Apostolos-Cappadona, Diane. "Virgin/Virginity." In Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art. Edited by Helene E. Roberts. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 2:905.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 8-9, no. 3, color repros.
2009
Galassi, Maria Clelia, and Elizabeth Walmsley. "Painting Technique in the Late Works of Giotto: Infrared Examination of Seven Panels from Altarpieces Painted for Santa Croce." In The Quest for the Original: Underdrawing and Technology in Painting. Symposium XVI, Bruges, September 21-23, 2006. Hélène Verougstraete and Colombe Janssens de Bisthoven, eds. Leuven, 2009: 116-122, fig. 4, 6.

Technical Summary

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