Analysis of Madonna and Child

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As the 13th century drew to a close in the wake of the Crusades, a little known artist was creating masterpieces paying homage to the Christian faith. Historical record of Duccio Di Buoninsegna’s life are far from complete, with the earliest documentation of his life in 1278 when he received payment from the Siena Council for the decoration of twelve trunks designed to store documents (, 2013). Di Buoninsegna was an Italian painter believed to have been born in the region of Tuscany sometime between 1255 and 1260. It was in the Tuscan town of Siena that he completed one of his most famous works, Madonna and Child. This work, thought to have been completed sometime between 1290 and 1300, is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013). Madonna with Childe was painted using tempera, a type of natural emulsion consisting of egg yolk, thinner, and water (Encyclopedia Brittanica, 2013). The medium on which Di Buoninsegna created this work was wood, which was common in the day. The wood was prepared through the application of gesso, a material made of burnt gypsum and hide (Encyclopedia Brittanica, 2013). The piece itself is quite intriguing, as the viewer will notice almost immediately that the promotions are significantly askew. The child, representing Jesus Christ, appears to have man-sized proportions, with child like hands and feet. The child’s head is also considerably smaller than one would expect, given the proportions of the body. The actions of the child are also not what one would expect, with the child appearing to comfort the Virgin, referred to here as Madonna. The child attempts to make eye contact, caressing the side of her face, as she averts her eyes. Di Buoninsegna may have intended to represent that the child was all knowing and wise beyond his years with this portrayal.
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