The Uffizi was probably my favorite gallery in Florence, and although it is popular already, its admiration is of worthy reason. The Medieval and early Renaissance altarpieces and wood panels are some of my favorite works, and thankfully the Uffizi is home to some of the most prized masterpieces of this period and style. Cimabue is noted for being one of the last artists of the Byzantine style, and as one of the first artists to slowly introduce perspective and more natural proportion—his masterpiece Madonna and Child Enthroned two Angels, St. Francis and Dominic is carefully considered in the center of one of the gallery rooms, rightfully stealing the attention of the thousands of visitors each week. When Vasari writes of Cimabue, he quickly turns his pen to Giotto, a pupil of Cimabue, and the leader of the new style of the century furthering perspectivo. When comparing a Giotto and Cimabue Madonna and child, one can quickly identify the differences in approach. Giotto uses the canopy over the Madonna to indicate space, as it appears to be going back into space, and the viewer looks at it as if from an angle. The figures faces are rendered with light and shadow, whereas Cimabue’s figures faces are relatively flat. The altarpiece by Simoni Martini and his brother-in-law, Lippo Memmi’s Annunciation reminisces the Byzantine age, but painted in the Sienese Gothic style of relatively flat surfaces and backgrounds, careful attention to line and detail, bold blocks of color, and striking applications of gold leaf—all typical elements of the school of Siena (recall the detail and the visually busy cathedral of Siena). I suppose what is so beautiful about Simoni Martini’s is the combination of small details with bold tempera-colors—yet the bold colors do not dominate; an allover softness exists in the work that delicately reflects the spirituality of the stories they depict. Another important artist of the Byzantine age includes Duccio di Buoninsegna, another Sienese-style father who was commissioned work for the Santa Maria Novella, the Duomo di Siena, and other churches and chapels of Tuscany. His style marked that of the Sienese Goth style. The compositions of the Sienese school included the same elements as the Byzantine tradition, with buildings and other objects as smaller than figures, or smaller than real-life. The main differences lie in the ornamental elements and detail; strictly Byzantine is bold, blocks of color and gold leaf, where Sienese is the same, except with more detail and soft elegant qualities to accompany the picture plane. These are stylistic components completely unique in history, and no other style, period, or replicas can compare.


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