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Madonna and Child - Giotto di Bondone. 85.5 x 62 cm.
A typical motive for church art - the image of the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus in her arms - the artist turned into a hymn to motherhood and sacrifice. This is not just an anonymous icon - it is an image of a mother and a child. The Virgin Mary is distinguished by recognizable facial features that can be found in many paintings by Giotto, which makes the picture even closer to people. She brings the Holy Virgin and her divine child closer to ordinary people, because the artist gave her a familiar face.
The icon is painted on a gold background, characteristic of the icons of the Byzantine type. But the image itself belongs to a new time. It is voluminous, expressive and very lively, not at all like that of the saints who were frozen in constrained poses with the same expression on their faces from earlier icons and paintings on church subjects.
The Madonna holds the baby Jesus in her arms, gently holding it to her with one hand. In another, she has a white rose - a symbol of her purity and innocence. The child reaches for her, looking at the flower. The Virgin Mary herself is looking at the audience, and her sad gaze reads the realization that her treasure, her child is doomed to a short life full of torment, and to a terrible death on the cross.
It is interesting that the artist chose for the maforia of the Madonna - the robe in which she is usually portrayed - not the classic colors, red and blue, but deep green. It is the color of hope, life and rebirth. Her clothes are golden with a green tint of lapels and rich gold trim, and the child is covered with the finest translucent fabric with a luxurious gold border. Folds very realistic outline the bodies, emphasizing their shapes and giving volume to the image.
For all its tradition, this picture seems to be a major breakthrough in church art. Instead of standard faces, real, full of life, expressive and recognizable images appear in it.