Late Gothic art: c. 1200-1400

Italian art from the late 13th and 14th centuries was once known as primitive because it was seen largely as a transition from Medieval abstraction to the naturalism of the Renaissance (with a dose of Byzantine influence thrown in for good measure). We now study the brilliant artist’s of Florence and Siena in their own right.

martini grid
Simone Martini’s magnificent altarpiece of Saint Louis of Toulouse projects a legacy of sacred Angevin succession, a record of international exchange, and the story of a Franciscan saint

Simone Martini, Saint Louis of Toulouse

The Iberian Peninsula was a dynamic place in the fourteenth century, with artists from what is today France and Italy arriving in the area, as well as Catalan artists traveling elsewhere.

Ferrer Bassa and the murals of Pedralbes

Cimabue, Maestà or Santa Trinita Madonna and Child Enthroned (detail), 1280-90, tempera on panel, 385 x 223 cm (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence)
Set against gleaming gold, Mary and Christ sit on an intricately carved throne studded with gems.

Cimabue, Maestà

Pisa Pulpit
Some distortions are deliberate. This pulpit has its critics, but it coheres in real life—just not in photos.

Giovanni Pisano, Pisa Pulpit

Fresco in the former Abbey of Saint-André-de-Lavaudieu, France, 14th century- detail
Rats spread plague throughout the streets of Europe. Society turned upside down—but the Renaissance lay ahead.

The Black Death

From carpenters and workshop assistants to apothecaries and goldsmiths, it took a village to make a panel painting.

Gold-ground panel painting

Cimabue, Santa Trinita Madonna and Child Enthroned and Giotto, The Ognissanti Madonna and Child Enthroned
Only decades apart—but what a difference. Next to Giotto’s substantial Virgin, Cimabue’s appears flat yet elegant.

Cimabue and Giotto compared