Madonna and Child with Angels and Saints Anthony of Padua and Nicolas of Tolentino by Matteo Giovanni

Essay by redspikedheelsCollege, UndergraduateA+, February 2004

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The work Madonna and Child with Angels and Saints Anthony of Padua and Nicolas of Tolentino was painted by Sienese artist Matteo di Giovanni sometime in the early 1470's (Thomas.) The media is tempra and oil on arched canvas. It is twenty-four and one-eighth inches tall and fifteen inches across (Cincinnati Art Museum.) The painting has no atmosphere. The background is painted gold, a feature reminiscent of the Byzantine Era. Inscribed in the golden backdrop are the words "oglorisa domina escla svpe." This means roughly, "glory to the matriarch," or "glory to the female deity" (Central Italian Co.) This adoration of Mary is an element out of the Gothic Cult of the Lady. Her halo reads "Ave Maria Gratia," or "Hail to the lovely Mary."

In the center is the Virgin and the Christ Child, as she clutches Him in her left arm. He presses close to her. Mary is the largest figure the piece, and one of the duel focal points.

Her dress, beneath her cloak, is one of the brightest, most saturated colors in the piece. The dark blue cloak masks most of her features, however, it gaps, drawing attention to her feminine parts, her breasts, but more significantly to her abdomen, conceivably rounded from childbirth. The Madonna's other features are distinctly effeminate. She has an elongated neck, a thin brow line, a long, narrow, slightly pointed nose, and subtle, dainty lips. Matteo di Giovanni is known particularly for his depiction of female figures (Thomas.) This work displays his expertise in this area.

Christ is the second of the focal points. Although He is the smallest figure in the piece, He is the only one visually engaged. His rosy cheeks draw the eye to His face, where it meets His gaze. His clothing is also brightly colored in...