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Madonna Cimabue

Painting, 1855, 222×521 cm

Description of the artwork «Madonna Cimabue»

Madonna Cimabue brought fame to Leighton. It is striking in its size: more than two meters high and more than five in width. Queen Victoria herself acquired a large canvas at the Academy of Fine Arts in London in 1855.

Back to the Future

In Rome, Leyton wrote this truly monumental work for two years. He depicted the street profession or procession in Florence with the altar image of the Madonna of the brush Cimabue. This painting was painted in the XIII century and comes from the artist's workshop in the church of Santa Maria Novella. The scene of the admiration and worship of Our Lady was described by an art historian. Giorgio Vasari in the XVI century: “... That is why this work seemed such a miracle to people of that time who had not seen anything better until then, and therefore it was carried from the Cimabue house to the church in a solemn procession with great rejoicing and to the sounds of pipes; for him he received great rewards and honors ... "

The procession is headed by Cimabue himself, on whose head a laurel wreath rests, and behind it you can see Giotto, Dante, leaning on the wall on the right and looking at what is happening as if from the side, Arnolfo di Cambio (architect Santa Maria del Fiore), artists Gaddo Gaddi, Andrea Tafi, Buonamico Buffalmaccosculptor Niccolo Pisano. Riding on a horse at the end of the procession is followed by the King of Naples, Charles of Anjou.

With all the stylization of the canvas under the past, here you can see the main creative credo of the future by the well-known Leighton: bright bright colors and maximum aesthetics of images.

"Madonna of Cimabue" is not Cimabue

The image of the Madonna is practically impossible to see, only the common features of the Mother of God with the Child on the throne, since the canvas is depicted sideways. For participants in the procession, the Mother of God is the center of the event, while for the viewer it is not an artistic center, but only a composition center. But at the same time, the historical image itself arouses interest, since it sets the Byzantine solemn style of the whole composition.

For a long time it was believed that the author of the image - Cimabue, one of the prominent masters of the era of the pro-Renaissance. This assured readers Vasari, and the overall composition of the altar image resembles a similar picture Maestas (praise, magnificence) Cimabue at the Louvre. But research from the end of 1889 convinced everyone that the author was the founder of the Sienese school Duccio di Buoninsegna, and not at all a teacher Giotto. Of course, the painting of Leighton has retained its original, albeit erroneous name.

"Madonna Cimabue" and public opinion

Perhaps for Leighton, one of the main criteria for success was the opinion of Queen Victoria and the heir to the throne of Albert. On the first evening after buying the painting, the queen made a diary entry: “There was a huge picture of an artist named Leighton. This beautiful painting reminded me of one of the paintings. Paolo Veronese, the same bright and filled with light. Albert was so fascinated by the piece that he made me buy it. ”

Leighton's colleagues did not leave the attention of Madonna Cimabue. Pre-Raphaelite Rossetti wrote that the painting by Letoin "is full of great power and wealth of the artist's dispensation." His brother, art critic William Rossetti, was not so enamored of the painting, noting the quality execution, but the lack of any outstanding originality.

Nevertheless, the picture is an important stage not only on the path to Leighton's fame, a significant step in his career, but also in the formation and development of his own style, aestheticism, noble restraint, and uncluttered color.
"Madonna Cimabue" is stored in the London National Gallery.

Author: Lyudmila Lebedeva
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About the artwork

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Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Religious scene

Style of art: Academism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1855

Size: 222×521 cm

Artwork in selections: 4 selections