Giotto, Madonna of San Giorgio alla Costa

Giotto di Bondone
c. 1295
Sala dei frammenti
Original location
Florence, Church of San Giorgio all Costa
Tempera pigments, panel, gold
Painting, gilding
Height: 180 cm ca.; Width: 90 cm ca.;
Tempera pigments, panel, gold

Panel painting in tempera with gilded background, attributed by both ancient sources and modern critics to Giotto, and dated to about 1295: from the Florentine Church of San Giorgio, now on loan to the Museum from the collections of the Archdiocese of Florence.

The painting, originally larger and cuspidate, was cut to the current form in 1705. The Madonna is shown enthroned, supporting the Child and flanked by two angels. The ample form of the Virgin and her gentle gaze express a very human sense of motherhood. The Child is clothed in a robe and carries the scroll of the law in one hand, which declares him Word incarnate. With his right hand he blesses, in the gesture of three, indicating his divine nature as a person of the Holy Trinity. The throne, painted as if in marble mosaic, suggests an ecclesial architecture: symbolically, Mary is the mother and image of the Church, while Christ is its head. The angels on either side of the throne refer to the biblical description of those adorning the ark of the covenant where the chosen people kept the tables of the law, to signify that Mary is the new ark who bore the incarnate word. This Madonna with Child is very close in culture, time and style to the statue of the same subject, known as the “Madonna with glass eyes" by Arnolfo, for the facade of the Cathedral (now in the Museum). The marbles of the throne also recall those of the medieval facade, surviving now only as fragments in the museum.

The painting was hit by the deadly Mafia terrorist bombing of 27 May 1993: during restoration, the choice was made to leave a splinter in the chest of the angel to the observer’s right, as remembrance and warning.

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Sala dei frammenti