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.
Marks and Labels
Probably commissioned for the church of Santa Croce or the church of Ognissanti, both Florence. Edouard-Alexandre de Max [1869-1924], Paris; sold 1917 to (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris); sold to Henry Goldman [1857-1937], New York, by 1920; sold 1 February 1937 back to (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris); sold 1939 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1939 to NGA.
- Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1920, unnumbered catalogue, as by Bernardo Daddi.
- 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).
- 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).
- Berenson and the Connoisseurship of Italian Painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1979, no. 43, repro.
- Duveen Brothers. Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941: no. 11, repro.
- National Gallery of Art. Book of Illustrations. Washington, DC, 1941: 113 (repro.), 241.
- Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 80, no. 367, pl. VI.
- Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 247, repro. 115.
- Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1944: 18, color repro.
- Frankfurter, Alfred M. The Kress Collection in the National Gallery. New York, 1944: 13, repro.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1945 (reprinted 1947, 1949): 11, repro.
- Einstein, Lewis. Looking at Italian Pictures in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1951: 18-20, repro.
- Galetti, Ugo, and Ettore Camesasca. Enciclopedia della pittura italiana. 3 vols. Milan, 1951: 2:1137.
- Toesca, Pietro. Il Trecento. Storia dell’arte italiana, 2. Turin, 1951: 608, 609.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1956: 14, color repro.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 18, repro.
- 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.
- 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.
- Seymour 1961 (Kress), 4-6, color repro.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 68, repro.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 58
- 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.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XIII-XV Century. London, 1966: 20-22, fig. 41-42.
- European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 51, repro.
- 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.
- 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.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 154, repro.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: I:219-221, II:pl. 149
- Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 19, pl. 2.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 71, no. 10, color repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 177, repro.
- Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 185, 188, color repro.
- "The National Gallery of Art, Washington: fifty years." Apollo 133, no. 349 (March 1991):156, repro.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 12, repro.
- 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.
- Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 8-9, no. 3, color repros.
- 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.
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