The whereSt. John is handing Jesus a small
The following paper is a comparison of Raphael’s Madonna of the Meadow andCimabue’s Madonna Enthroned. Madonna of the Meadow was painted by RaffaelloSanzio, otherwise known as Raphael, in 1505. This time period is known as theItalian Renaissance. The painting was oil on panel and stood 3 ft 8.5 in X 2 ft10.
25 in. It is now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Italy (Adams,567). Madonna of the Meadow is of a classical nature, which is very common ofthe time period. A good example of this would be the nude characters used in theart. The medium used (oil) was also being used very widely in Italy by thistime. It allowed the painter to make very realistic shades and colors.
Thefigures and landscape in the painting also looked very fluid and real due to theuse of the oil paint. The iconography of the painting lies in the history of itsfamous characters. The three figures come from the Bible; however, the artisthas taken some liberties. The picture contains the Virgin Mary, the baby Jesusand his second cousin St. John the Baptist.
The picture foreshadows the death ofChrist on the cross. This point is displayed in the action of the painting whereSt. John is handing Jesus a small cross and Mary is looking upon it knowing whatis to come. There is a feeling of connection between the three of them by theway they are all looking at each other and the cross. Although I could find nodocumentation on this, I feel there is also a symbol of the trinity in the threeflowers to Mary’s left side. The flowers are very prevalent and are connected tothe figures in the painting by having the same color that is in the Virgin’sshirt.
It is also speculated that the water in the background symbolizes thebaptism of Christ by John the Baptist. The fact that Mary is barefoot in thepainting indicates that she is walking on holy ground. This painting is among aseries that has been called Madonna of the Lands because the Florentinecountryside in the background is said to be under the protection of the Virgin,the Child and the infant Baptist. The Virgin Mary is also joined to thelandscape by her sloping shoulders which make a continuation of the mountainouspeaks of Florence in the background (Hartt, 470). The positioning and placementof the three biblical characters are said to be in a Leonardesque-type pyramid (Hartt,470). Raphael favored this style and positioning from Leonardo DiVinchi. Theposes of the three are very calm, relaxed and subdued.
His overall style of thepainting was very realistic and smooth. The use of light was very natural andsoft with delicate shadowing and a continuous flow of the direction of thesunlight. The setting is very spacious and deep and his use of atmosphericperspective is very noticeable, allowing the scene to become even more alive andbelievable to the eye. The halos adorning the three are also put intoperspective by an elliptical shape and by being very faint. The colors and tonesare very natural and soothing, much like the brushwork of the painting as well.
The best description of the painting comes from our textbook Art Across Timestating that, “Raphael’s style is calm, harmonious, and restrained”.In comparison, Madonna Enthroned has many differences although it contains twoof the same characters. The painting is much larger having a height of 12 ft 7in and a width of 7 ft 4 in. It was designed about 200 years earlier thanMadonna of the Meadow during the Byzantine Influence. It is currently being heldin the Galleria degli Uffizi.
Its medium also differs quite much in that it is atempera on wood (Adams, 452). The tempera does not allow the painting to look asreal and as fluid as does the oil. The Christ child is very much adult-like inhis appearance and gestures, nothing like the one in Raphael’s painting. It is,however, very typical of the Byzantine style as is the gold background and thinfigures (Adams, 450). The figures in the painting are once again from the Bible.However, in this painting we also have angels and four older men at the bottomof the throne holding scrolls.
These men depict the four prophets of the OldTestament. The style differs quite a bit from Madonna of the Meadow in that itis not as soft and realistic. The light does not seem to come from one cleardirection and the illusion of space is somewhat flat and non-dimensional. A bigdifference is the appearance of the halos around the heads. They are very flatand non-realistic which is typical of the time period, but very unlike theelliptical halos of Raphael’s painting. The colors are not as natural andrealistic in that Cimabue used distinctive golds all through the painting.
Thefigures are not relaxed and smooth as Raphael’s. Their faces do, however, lookcalm and restrained, but the positioning of the bodies and expressions are notfluid and natural. The figures also seem much more confined and”scrunched” unlike the open and free figures of Rafael. The brushworkalso seems tighter and less smooth almost making a very hard edge to the objectsand figures of the art.
The painting is, however, very balanced in the placementof the angels and the prophets around the Virgin and Christ. One aspect of thepainting that is quite interesting is the use of the throne. It looks like thestructure of a cathedral in an abstract way, thus tying Christ to the modernchurch. Although both paintings are very different in many aspects they areextremely good representations of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.
Despite theirdifferences they still portray two very prevalent characters from the Bible andrelate though they were created over 200 years apart.