National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: Artistic Exchange: Europe and the Islamic World

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Agnolo Gaddi
Florentine, active 1369 - 1396
Madonna Enthroned with Saints and Angels
1380/1390, tempera on panel
left panel: 197.2 x 80 cm
middle panel: 203.8 x 80 cm
right panel: 194.6 x 80.6 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
Image: Agnolo Gaddi
Madonna Enthroned with Saints and Angels, 1380/1390
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1937.1.4.a Image: Agnolo Gaddi
Madonna Enthroned with Saints and Angels, 1380/1390
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1937.1.4.b Image: Agnolo Gaddi
Madonna Enthroned with Saints and Angels, 1380/1390
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1937.1.4.c

Gaddi unified space across this altarpiece's three panels with a single textile floor cover. Its design is typical of contemporary Italian silks, which were a creative blend of various textile traditions. Like many of the "Tartar cloths" that traveled west along the Silk Road across the Mongol Empire, the pattern is woven entirely in gold-wrapped threads. The composition of octagons containing paired griffins and birds, arranged back-to-back against a stylized tree, descends from ancient Persian textiles, via Byzantine and Islamic variations. Geometric interlace framing the animals derives from Islamic ornament but has been given a three-dimensional look to suit contemporary Italian style. When the supply of "Tartar cloths" plummeted after the fall of the Mongol Empire during the 1360s, Italian silks--high in quality and cosmopolitan in design--filled the gap in the booming international luxury trade.

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