GIOVANNI CIMABUE 1240 (?)-1302 (?) Italian School of Florence
GIOTTO DI BONDONE 1266 (?)-1337 Italian School of Florence
FOR the first comparison I invite you to study the two examples of The Madonna Enthroned -- one by Cimabue, the other by his pupil Giotto. Both are painted on wooden panels in distemper -- that is to say, with colors that have been mixed with some gelatinous medium, such as the white and the yolk of an egg beaten up together; for it was not until the fifteenth century that the use of oil as a medium was adopted. The colors used in Giotto's panel are tints of blue and rose and white; in Cimabue's the blues and reds are deep and dusky; the background in each case being golden.
We notice at once a general similarity between these two pictures, not only in choice of subject, but in the manner of presentation: Madonna, the queen of heaven, upon a throne; her mantle drawn over her head; her right hand resting on the knee of the infant Saviour, who has two fingers of his right hand raised in the act of blessing; kneeling angels at the foot, and figures in tiers above them; all the heads being surrounded by the nimbus, or circular cloud of light, symbolic of their sacred character.