Cimabue, Giotto's master
Most historians view Cimabue (pronounced Chee-ma-boo-ee) as the last of the medieval masters, and his pupil Giotto (Gee-otto) as the first. 5 days ago Cimabue: Cimabue, painter and mosaicist, the last great Italian artist in the Demystified · Quizzes · Galleries · Lists · On This Day · Biographies · Newsletters upon which rested the art of Giotto and Duccio in the 14th century, . By his own personality and by his contributions to painting he merits Vasari's. C. Giotto. *D. Dante. E. Cimabue. Title: AATAATClassical Revival. 2. Which of the following . D. has no relationship to Classical antiquity . Essay Quiz.
So I guess it makes sense that they are below. They're holding scrolls as opposed to books, and that's how we can recognize instantly that they are not the evangelists, that they are actually from the Old Testament.
Mary was an enormously important figure at this time. Christ was a little terrifying to the medievel mind. Mary grew in importance what is known as the cult of the Madonna, the cult of the virgin, as an intercessor to her son. That is, people would pray to the virgin Mary, and hopefully she would speak maybe to God on your behalf.
That's right and that's exactly how Cimabue shows Mary to us here. She's pointing to Christ, in a way addressing the viewer, and then pointing to the Christ child, her son, and saying, "This is the pathway to God. Now Christ, for his part, is looking back to us. His two fingers are raised as if he is blessing us. Now the rendering of Christ is really interesting because of course compared to Mary he is quite small and he is the appropriate scale.
Tthe problem is, at least to our modern eyes, is that he doesn't look like an infant. His head is small in relationship to his body and he kind of has the features of a grown man except in a little baby and one of the ways our historians have acknowledged this is that this is a symbolic rendering, that Christ is shown as a man of wisdom and age is sometimes a way of expressing that.How Shy Are You? (Personality Tests & Quizzes)
Symbolically then, here is an all-knowing God. But here is God as a child, although later in the Renaissance that convention will dissipate and we'll see a chubby baby in its place.
Cimabue, Santa Trinita Madonna
So I'm noticing the elongated features of Mary, her long nose, the sort of stylization around her eyes is almond shaped, her very elongated hand, and that's coming from Byzantine tradition that Cimabue is painting in. What's interesting is Byzantium, which had been a source of power and culture in the East, actually a lot of the artists and intellectuals had come to Italy in part because of invasions. So at this moment, at the end of the s, at the beginning of the s, there is this infusion of intellectual capital of artistic tradition that comes into Italy and really revitalizes the traditions here.
So sometimes our historians refer to this period as the Italo-Byzantine. On the other hand Cimabue is doing things that point toward the Renaissance. He is using gold lines to articulate the folds of drapery but those lines instead of just sort of being flat and decorative really begin to describe a sense of the three-dimensional folds of drapery and Mary herself begins to sort of fill out and be a little bit less of that thin elongated figure without any mask that we see before this.
We do have a sense of Mary actually holding the Christ child to some extent.
- Florence in the Late Gothic period, an introduction
He's a little weightless. Yeah but the figures are weightless. The striations, those gold lines that you were speaking about, helped to emphasize that almost two-dimensionality of those figures, but there are trace of [?
You know, these are hints, they are subtle, but of course we can look back now and see this as the beginning of the long development of increasing naturalism, which people like Vasari will look back to Cimabue as the root of.
Look for example the two foreground angels on either side of the throne. Half of their body is behind the throne, giving us the real illusion of space, and their foot comes forward and on the left the angel's foot comes even a little off the throne. But they are still very decorative and one could only imagine what those angels in the background are actually standing on. And you know, the throne itself is so decorative.
Maybe we should just take one moment and talk about the fact that this is on wood. That this is painted with tempera.
That the artist is using very thin gold leaves. That's real gold there that has been attached to the wood surface. And we shouldn't underestimate the effort that it takes to create a panel of wood that can survive for so many hundreds of years without warping, without cracking significantly.
In fact, the Cimabue is - Voiceover: More than 12 feet. Yeah, it's 12 feet tall, it's huge, and that was so that it could be seen the full distance of the church nave. And the Giotto too is more than 10 feet high.
The Cimabue is a little earlier and Cimbue is the very first artist that Vasari talks about at the very beginning of this incredible tradition of Italian painting. So Cimbue is really seen to make the first step away from a medieval style toward a more human focused Renaissance style. Yeah, and there's a lot of controversy and interest in terms of why the Renaissance has its roots at this particular moment in this particular place.
I mean, why in Florence and why right here at the end of the 13th century? And one of the theories that's been put forward is pressure that was being felt in the Byzantine Empire to the east by Islam and some of the artists perhaps fleeing the great traditions of the east and coming to Italy and perhaps prompting it to think beyond the traditions of the medieval.
These are tempera paintings on wooden panels. It's egg tempera and it's using minerals that are suspended in that egg media. It's good for little lines.
It doesn't blend well, it dries quickly, and so there's a really linear aspect to this painting which may in some respects result from the tempera. This is gold that's been flattened out. It's a very- thin gold leaf and, in fact, even tooled, that is to say patterns have been pounded in to make it even more interesting.
And it's been glued onto the wooden panel. It's been burnished and sometimes there's a kind of clay layer underneath which you can sometimes see a little reddish, but the gold itself is really meant as this ornamental reflective material that had a symbolic quality in that it was meant to reflect the light of heaven.
Neither of these are set in any kind of earthly realm. The flat gold background indicates a kind of divine, heavenly space for these figures to occupy. And that makes sense when you think of the Cimbue because the Madonna, for instance, she's so - I guess maybe because she's defined by line, if she stood up, she would be so tall.
She would be very elongated and her drapery is defined by line primarly and not as much by modeling from light to dark although a little bit. There are some distinct medieval or Byzantine elements that are still visible here.
Her fingers are very long, her mouth is very small, the nose is very long, a kind of symbolism of the body, not a representation of a real person so much as a representation of a kind of ideal heavenly form. The angels are all stacked kind of - Voiceover: It's a good thing - they have wings, isn't it?
Cimabue, Santa Trinita Madonna & Giotto's Ognissanti Madonna
Because what are they standing on? I don't know, but we do begin to get some sense of the beginnings of an illusion of space in Cimabue. She's got a little modeling under her chin and you're right, the throne on which she sits does sort of receive - except here's the funny thing.
When you look at the throne carefully, it looks as if we're looking across at the Virgin Mary but we're looking down at the seat on which she's seated and in some ways we're also looking up at her. There's not a single perspective or point in which the viewer is situated. We have sort of multiple viewpoints and that's something that, of course, will disappear more than a century later when we get to Brunelleschi and the early Renaissance.
But I'm not comfortable with the idea that Cimabue couldn't do it. So what about the four figures underneath? It's interesting that they're behind there to show some illusion of space. And it kind of frames them as well. It does and they're adorable down there, those prophets.
You can always tell the prophets 'cause they're holding scrolls.