The work is composed of a large central panel depicting the Annunciation, and two side panels with St. Ansanus (left), and female saint, generarally identified with St. Maxima or St. Margaret, in the right, and four tondoes in the cusps: Jeremiah, Ezechiel, Isiah and Daniel.
The Annunciation shows the archangel Gabriel entering the house of the Virgin Mary to communicate her that she will soon bear the child Jesus, whose name means the "Savior." Gabriel holds an olive branch in his hand, a traditional symbol of peace, while pointing at the Holy Ghost's dove with the other. The dove is descending from heaven, from the center of the mandorla of eight angels above, about to enter the Virgin's right ear. In fact, along the path of the dove, viewers see Gabriel's utterance, "Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." The angel's mantle shows a detailed "tartar cloth" pattern and fine gilt feathers.
The Virgin, sitting on a throne, is portrayed at the moment that she is startled out of her reading, reacting with a graceful and composed reluctance, looking with surprise at the celestial messenger. Also, her dress has an arabesque-like pattern.
At the sides, the two patrons saints of the cathedral are separated by the central scene by two decorate twisting columns. The background, completely gilt, has a vase of lilies, an allegory of purity often associated to the Virgin Mary.
The use of a Gothic line, plus such realistic elements as the book, the vase, the throne, the pavement in perspective, the realistic action of the two figures and their subtle nuances of character are a substantial detachment from the bi-dimensionality typical of Byzantine art.Annunciation, Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi
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The painting has a traditional Christian subject, representing the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child seated on her lap, with saints and angels surrounding them on all sides. This particular representation of the Virgin is called a Maest?, a popular representation at the time. It is often celebrated as the first painting of the Renaissance due to its newfound naturalism and escape from the constraints of Gothic art.
It is generally dated to around 1310. While historians have had trouble finding specific information for indisputably attributing many of Giotto's works to the artist, Madonna Enthroned is one piece for which there are a few documents supporting its creation by Giotto. There are many sources that show he spent many years living and creating in Florence. However, the main source that documents Madonna Enthroned specifically is artist Lorenzo Ghiberti's autobiography, I Commentarii (1447). An earlier manuscript document of 1418 also attributes the painting to Giotto, but it is Ghiberti's autobiography that provides the most solid evidence.
One of Giotto's later works, Madonna Enthroned was completed in Florence, upon the artist's return to the city. It was originally painted for the Ognissanti Franciscan church in Florence. Built for the Humiliati, a small religious order at the time, the church had many acclaimed paintings designed for it. Specifically, Giotto's Madonna Enthroned was designed for the high altar.The Ognissanti Madonna, Giotto