Gaddi was heir to the great Florentine painting tradition of Giotto (1266-1337), the acknowledged father of the Italian Renaissance. Gaddi inherited his father’s workshop, which he directed very successfully until the end of the fourteenth century. The Cummer panel is rare because it is one of the very few small works completed entirely by Gaddi. His skill is demonstrated in the acute attention to detail, especially in the elaborate tooling and punching of the gold leaf found in the background and halos. Many of these specific punch marks can be seen in Gaddi’s other works.
The Madonna is shown suckling the Christ Child while seated on the floor with her head bowed. This humble portrayal of the Madonna became prevalent in fourteenth-century Italian painting and was a result of the humanization of the Virgin Mary as a mother. Two hovering angels hold a crown over her head revealing that the Madonna is also the Queen of Heaven. To emphasize this royal reference, she is clothed in a beautiful blue mantle that is lined in green and trimmed in gold. The robe underneath is decorated with an intricate gold pattern. The patterning is continued in the cloth of honor that is held aloft by two red-clad, red-winged heavenly angels.
“At the moment, I am fascinated with the Gaddi. I like seeing the artist’s hand and mind at work – the presence of the underpainting, the attention to detail and the symbolism and devotional nature of the piece. I’m not often interested in angels, but I like the texture and the pattern in the work and like finding the cultural references of Tuscany in the painting.” – anonymous