Formal Analysis of Cimabue’s Virgin and Child Enthroned and Bouts’ Virgin and Child





Formal Analysis of Cimabue’s Virgin and Child Enthroned and Bouts’ Virgin and Child

Overall, the discourse comprises a formal textual analysis of two pieces of artwork developed within the periods of 18th century and 19th century in Northern Europe. The first piece of art comprises the Virgin and Child Enthroned by Cimabue. The respective artwork is presumed to have been drawn for the high altar of the church of Santa Trinitá in Florence, Italy in 1280. The materials evident within the painting comprise tempera and gold on wood panel. In addition, the dimensions of the artwork measure 12΄7˝ by 7΄4˝ (3.53 x 2.2 m). Consequently, the second piece of painting used in the analysis comprises the Virgin and Child by Dieric Bouts. Presumably, the painting was developed between 1455 and 1460. The materials used within the illustration mainly involve oil on wood panel. Additionally, Bouts’ Virgin and Child’s dimensions are 81/2˝ x 61/2˝ (21.6 x 16.5). The main reason for selecting the paintings for a comparative analysis is based on the religious significance that each possesses in relation to the dissemination of Christianity by the Mendicant orders from the 1200s.

The first painting, Virgin and Child Enthroned, by Cimabue is an illustration of the mendicant influences on the painting’s visual style. In addition, it represents a deviation from the incorporation of the Italo-Byzantine technique, which was rather common before the arrival of the mendicant groups in Italy. The artwork mainly highlights the Virgin Mary embracing an infant Christ. Additionally, the representation is encompassed with panels that depict angels and prophets surrounding the main figures. Byzantine influence within the painting is present due to the alignment evident within the facial features. Accordingly, Virgin and Child Enthroned offers a traditional Byzantine depiction of an individual’s face. Such features constitute almond-shaped eyes, extended nose, face and hands, and recessed lips. Irrespective of these features, the appearances on the figures’ faces are softened forcing the composition to avert from confronting the viewer via the faces of the fourteen icons.

The second painting, Virgin and Child, by Dieric Bouts portrays several similar characteristics exhibited by Cimabue’s painting. Even though there are similarities, it is important first to notice the disparate characteristics within this respective painting. Foremost, the technique used constitutes a significant deviation from the common Byzantine style used before the 1300s. Accordingly, the painting represents a vivid depiction of the Virgin Mary holding her son, Christ, in a loving embrace. Moreover, the child is respondent to the embrace based on his upward gaze towards his mother. Additionally, traces of Byzantine influence are evident due to the arrangement of the facial features, specifically the extensive faces of the Virgin and her child.

In comparison, both paintings represent the extent of mendicant influence on the artists’ style and representation of icons within the Christian teachings. The representation of the Virgin and Christ in both illustrations indicates the development and progression of Christianity especially in Italy after the arrival of the mendicant factions in the 1200s towards the 1400s. Similarly, the illustrations by Cimabue and Bouts are a deviation from conventional Byzantine technique due to the manner in which both figures are represented in contact with one another. On the contrary, the attention to detail between both paintings is different. In the second painting, the use of brushstrokes is evident based on the clear definition exhibited on the face, chin, and mouth of the Virgin. Additionally, the infant exhibits accentuated facial qualities within the painting. The use of oil on wood panel in the second painting deviates from the Byzantine norm involving the common use of tempera paint in most paintings such as the initial one.

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