Benvenuto di Giuseppe (ca. 1250-after 1300), was an Italian painter and creator of mosaics from Florence. He is widely known as Cimabue, a given name meaning “ox-head”, which refers to his stubbornness and homeliness. He is regarded as one of the first great Italian painters that broke away from the Italo-Byzantine style, although majority of his compositions still rely on Byzantine icons (Montebello, par. 3). The art of this period comprised scenes and forms that appeared relatively flat and highly stylized.
In Cimabue’s thirties, ca. 1280-1290, he painted a large panel depicting the Madonna Enthroned, or also known as Madonna in Majesty. It is more than 12 feet high and 7 feet wide. The medium of the painting is tempera on panel. The painting sits on an altar and became the devotional focus of the church of Santa Trinita in Florence (Janson 283)
The focus of this painting points directly to Virgin Mary holding the boy Jesus. They occupy a heavy gold throne, depicted in the center of the painting and appear beneath it are the Hebrew Bible prophets holding scrolls. This represents the relationship between the Hebrew Bible and Christian New Testament (Thiébaut, par. 4). Cimabue’s artworks focus primarily on religious expression, which is an important theme in Christian art. On both sides of the throne are symmetrical rows of very schematic and emotionless angles that surround the Virgin Mary. All subjects in the painting have a representation of human figure, which creates a stand for the spiritual presence (Janson 283).
Both Virgin Mary and the boy Jesus look directly at the viewer, as well as most of the angels. She is lifting his hand for a blessing sign and this gesture also emphasizes the presence of her son. The Virgin Mary’s towering hieratic scale draws a viewer’s focus towards her. The light shade of colors in the rest of the painting exemplifies the Virgin Mary’s presence, such as the brilliant blue color of her gown that lies contrastingly against...