Museums and Art

"Madonna Cassini", Masaccio - description of the painting


Madonna Cassini - Masaccio. 24 x 18 cm.

This small picture was discovered among historical values ​​exported by Hitler troops from Italy. On the back of the board is the family coat of arms of Cardinal Antonio Cassini (Casini), by which the image became known as Madonna Cassini.

The painting depicts the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus on a canonical "flat" gold background, characteristic of Gothic religious images. At first glance, the pose of the Madonna and Child seems quite familiar and also canonical, but it is worth looking at the image, and it becomes clear that it is somewhat different from the static and lifeless icons of the Gothic era.

Here Madonna amuses herself with the child, affectionately tickling his tender neck. An innocent child rejoices in her mother’s affection and tries to catch her hand with her tiny little hands. But the face of the Madonna is blurred, there is no joy in her eyes. She seems to foresee the future, understands that this child is doomed, and her life will be full of grief.

The picture pleases the eye not only with a charming motive, but also with the subtlety of writing. The faces of Mary and Christ are very lively and expressive, a delicate blush even plays on the cheeks of the Virgin. Each golden curly curl on his head was written out for the baby Jesus, just as much attention was paid to small details - the baby’s light shirt and his crib, as well as a gold edging on the dress and on the tunic of the Virgin Mary. Vibrant, rich colors and high craftsmanship make this religious image very realistic and attractive.

Despite the smooth golden background and the complete absence of architectural elements, the artist managed to successfully convey air and space. To do this, he used the game of shadows and folds on the clothes and bodies of the characters. With these simple pictorial means, he achieved what was not previously in church painting — three-dimensionality, three-dimensionality of images.


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