The late Gothic is the period 1280 – 1500. This period is also known as the flamboyant. Late Gothic was more decorative than the previous period. The focus was on the images of the art and not on the structural substance. The area of focus of this paper is two cities, Florence and Siena, Italy. This is a reflection on the famous artist of the late Gothic in Italy, the painting style used, and the contribution of Christianity to artwork.
The transition from pagan culture to Christianity meant that artists embraced naturalism. Art was primarily focused on the spiritual realm, and little attention was paid to the physical. The then-two great cities, Florence and Siena, of Italy played a significant role in the development of art. Siena and Florence were known to produce renowned artists such as Duccio, The Lorenzetti brothers, Giotto, and Cimabue. This artist revolutionized art not only in Italy but also around the world. The late Gothic style was characterized by figures inhabiting the earthly environment as opposed to the flat gold background of medieval artists. It is worth noting that art made responds to the demands of time.
Besides, in the 13th century, Italian artists embraced the Byzantine style, which was foreign, and integrated it with their Italian style to form the Italo-Byzantine style. However, in the 14th century, a renowned artist, Cimabue, had some interesting ideas of art of using light and shade in modeling figures and depicting space. As a result, artists traveled around Italy and southern France, and their artwork was influenced by one another style. Artists influenced the artistic style of their artists in one way or another.
Giotto, Duccio, and Cimabue were more or less different in their artistic styles. Giotto had a massive influence on art through his paintings. It is deserved to refer to Giotto as the master of visual storytelling. This narrative painting employed drama and emotion of the moment. His artistic style was so influential that even after his death, there was an insignificant difference between his painting and his pupils’ paintings, making it difficult to tell the differences. Giotto contributed much to the development of art. After Cimabue and Duccio’s paintings, he created the Ognissanti Madonna in Uffizi, Florence. The Ognissanti Madonna painting was similar to the painting of Duccio and Cimabue. They all used a gold background, and Madonna was wearing a blue robe on the throne. Besides, Giotto painted another famous painting called Lamentation Over Christ. Giotto used the fresco painting style, which gave him a balance of decoration and narration. Amazingly, he used the fresco painting to limit the dominance of colors while simultaneously providing beautiful décor and narrating the story.
Looking at the altarpiece by Cimabue called Santa Trinita Madonna and Child. It is possible that Giotto and Cimabue used a narrative style because the Santa Trinita Madonna and Child painting has a concept of the old testament which forms the foundation of the painting, and the Madonna and Child are seated on the throne above. This could be because Giotto was a student of Cimabue. Cimabue, a Florentine, used symbolic rendering in his Santa Trinita Madonna and Child painting. Different symbols are used to convey information to the viewers. Madonna is portrayed as pointed to the child who is the way to God.
Duccio is a Sienese who is known for his artwork. His famous painting of Maesta earned him a good reputation in Italy and beyond. The way Duccio created Maesta is called the heaven style. This altarpiece was placed behind the altar of Siena Cathedral. The cathedral was a civic building that gave the people much pride, symbolizing the Siena community. Duccio was a master of color and beauty that comforted the eye and the soul. He made the Maesta using the Tempera panel painting method. All these artists contributed to the late Gothic and early Renaissance since Duccio’s art method was rooted at the moment while Giotto headed to Western art.
Lastly, painting methods used by the artists contributed to the late Gothic style and the early RenaissanceRenaissance. One of the styles that developed the late Gothic style was the Tempera panel painting. Before it was eclipsed by oil painting, Tempera panel painting involved pigment, which was mixed with egg York and applied to gesso. It was a slow and strenuous method that promoted the details of the painting. Due to its opaqueness, tempera paint does not allow the blending of colors. On the other hand, the fresco painting method involves pigment being applied to a wet plaster that dries while binding colors to the plaster. The short drying period of the wet plaster meant that the artists raced against time to get the best result. A flat and hard surface was needed for decoration using the fresco method. It functioned as the narrative way of painting. The fresco painting technique triggered the Renaissance, pointing to Western art.
In conclusion, Florence and Siena’s famous artists contributed so much to the development of the late Gothic and the introduction of the Renaissance. There are similarities and differences between the artists in terms of the painting style used. Italy’s art played a role in the development of art internationally, especially across Europe.
Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker, “Duccio, Maestà,” in Smarthistory, June 18, 2022, accessed May 20, 2023, https://smarthistory.org/duccio-maesta/.
Dr. Joanna Milk Mac Farland, “Florence in the Late Gothic period, an introduction,” in Smarthistory, December 30, 2015, accessed May 20, 2023, https://smarthistory.org/florence-in-the-late-gothic-period-an-introduction/.
Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris, “Giotto, The Ognissanti Madonna and Child Enthroned,” in Smarthistory, November 23, 2020, accessed May 20, 2023, https://smarthistory.org/giotto-the-ognissanti-madonna/.