MADONNA AND CHILD IN A LANDSCAPE
After 431 A.D., when the Council of Ephesus affirmed Mary’s standing as the Mother of God, artwork depicting Madonna and Child was given a prominent place in Byzantine culture. The use of devotional images eventually spread to the West at the time of the Renaissance. At first, many artists modeled their works on the Byzantine Madonna types, but with an important difference. The Renaissance masters sought to inspire piety through the beauty and tenderness, rather than the theological significance of the subject.
Beginning with the 14th century Italian artist Giotto, Renaissance religious art moved steadily in the direction of greater realism and emotion. The height of Renaissance, in the 1500s, saw the emergence of some of history’s greatest painters. Artists like Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Raphael were technical geniuses who also achieved awesome beauty and harmony in their works.
One of the artists of the Venetian school at that time was Giovanni Batista Cima (c. 1459-1518). Probably a pupil of Bartolommeo Montagna, he later came under the influence of the great Venetian master Giovanni Bellini. In particular, the airy, luminous coloration typically of Bellini’s paintings also became characteristics of Cima’s style.
The earliest dated Cima work was an altarpiece, Madonna of the Pergola, painted for a church in Vicenza. In 1493, he painted the great altar panel for the Cathedral of Conegliano. That same year, he moved to Venice, where he created signed and dated altarpieces for numerous local churches.
Cima’s approach to Madonna and child paintings changed little. Throughout his career, it retained an astonish calm, combined with rustic undertones and a sense of solemnity. These traits are evident in one of his last great works, Madonna and Child in a Landscape, painted in 1515.
The 29 cents u.S. traditional Christmas stamp featuring Cima’s painting Madonna and Child in a Landscape was designed by Bradbury Thompson of Riverside, Connecticut.
Postal Commemorative Society