Art Piece Essay

Sonia Aktar

Dr. Carrie Hall

English 1101

December 10th, 2018



The Madonna Enthroned

During the thirteenth century in Florence, Italy many painters portrayed biblical scenes in surrealistic settings through a Byzantine style. (Cimabue, Giovanni Cenni Di Pepo Is Part Of New Catholic Encyclopedia Supplement 2011). This style often contained the use of Gold and architectural spaces, closely resonating with the early medieval time period. These characteristics are seen in Cimabue’s painting “Virgin and Child Enthroned, and Prophets”. Through this painting, Giotto is able to combine the styles of the gothic and Byzantine era, as a means to present a similar idolization of Mary but in a different limelight mirroring the late medieval gothic style. Cimabue and Giotto depiction of the Virgin and child resonate with one another; however, Giotto shows a deeper understanding of perspective and exudes a greater sense of idolization of holy figures different than that of Cimabue’s painting.  

The painting “Madonna and Child” by Cimabue was created in c. 1280 Galleria Degli Uffizi, Florence by the use of Tempura and gold on wood with dimensions of 12’ 7’ by 7’ 4’ to serve a purpose as a high center alter piece in the Saint Trinity church, similarly to the painting by Giotto, painted in c.1305 for the high altar in the church of Ognissanti with dimensions of 10’8 by 6’ 8 1/2 . (Stokstad Marilyn and Cothren Michael 287)

Cimabue’s painting depicts the Virgin Mary seated on a large throne, mirroring the architectural forms of the Byzantine era displayed through an ivory tone representing chastity, a symbol of purity, also depicted in Giotto’s painting by the two angels kneeling beside the throne offering vases contained with roses and lilies (Virgin and Child Enthroned, Surrounded by Angels and Saints Ognissanti Maestà). In her lap, rests Christ whom she is shown pointing to by her right hand as a means to direct the audience’s attention and acknowledge him as the way to salvation. Giotto, however, portrays Mary and Christ on a “pointed tabernacle”, referring to a place of worship, constructed with marble, rich in somber colors, representing the gothic style. In Cimabue’s painting, Christ exudes a sense of wisdom represented through the scroll of the law placed in his right hand and his adult facial features, similarly portrayed in Giotto’s painting. The clothes worn by Mary and Christ embody streaks of gold as a means to “reflect the light of heaven” (Khan Academy 2:03) whereas Giotto illustrates Mary in a less decorative drapery, hinting at a much darker tone balanced by the pastel pink clothing of Christ. Surrounding them are eight angels, four on each side in order to produce symmetry, a characteristic also present in Giotto’s painting through the equal division of angels and prophets on each side of the throne. This symmetrical alignment in the subjects of the painting is also seen by the tilted heads of the angels, congruent to their opposites, the prophets below Mary and Christ in Cimabue’s painting and in the architecture of the thrones in both paintings. Cimabue illuminates the angels through their distinct halos and vibrant wings, whereas Giotto presents the angels in a more human-like state by the hindrance of their wings. In Cimabue’s painting the prophets are seen from left to right as Jeremiah, Abraham, David and Isaiah (Virgin and Child Enthroned, and Prophets Santa Trinita Maestà), all of whom are holding “phylacteries with writings from the Holy Scriptures,” whereas Giotto intermingles them in the crowd of angels diminishing their importance.

           The way Cimabue presents his variation of the Virgin Enthroned differs from that of Giotto’s in that Cimabue strays away from a realistic perspective. In Cimabue’s painting there’s a certain disproportionation given to the Virgin Mary that allows the viewers to envision her elongation if she were to stand (Khan Academy 2:24), whereas in Giotto’s painting we’re presented a naturalistic figure of Mary’s prominent through her physically features such as the highlight of her breast, around her knees and around her head where the drapery falls. The throne that the Virgin Mary sits on also shows an understanding of a more Three-dimensional space through its representation of steps, whereas in Cimabue’s the perspective is altered by the four prophets that are depicted underneath Mary conveying an unrealistic view. In the article, it says, “An astonishing areas of the picture is given over to the architectonic throne in which, for the first time in Italian Art, the artist thoroughly examines perspective recession” (Stubblebine, H. James 97). In Giotto’s painting, the angels help exude this perspective through the masking of angels by the halos, allowing the audience to acquire a deeper understanding of foreground and middleground. There’s also a distinct attention to each angel whom, although are depicted in similar clothing, portray different beings, with different facial features, a characteristic hindered in Cimabue’s conveyance of angels, which present an idealistic view of the angels, who are all similarity alike. In Cimabue’s painting, the angel all seem to be stacked on top of one another seeming as if they’re floating, adhering to a more two-dimensional space seen also through the lack of physicality of Mary’s figure.

        With the induction to the prior, we can concur that although both paintings beautifully portray their version of the Mary Enthroned, Giotto di Bondone does so in a way that allows his viewers to perceive Mary as an idolized figure. He’s able to do this through various aspects such as focusing on the gaze of the angels and prophets, having a sense of light and shadow, and being able to portray a three-dimensional space onto a two-dimensional canvas, a characteristic not evident in Cimabue’s piece. Through this piece, Giotto di Bondone was able to establish a different style of painting during the proto-renaissance period that allowed a greater understanding of art that eventually progressed and flourished into the Renaissance Period.  



Works Cited

“Cimabue, Giovanni (Cenni Di Pepo).” New Catholic Encyclopedia Supplement 2011, edited by Robert L. Fastiggi, vol. 1, Gale, 2011, pp. 180-181. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 12 Nov. 2018.

“Khan Academy.” Khan Academy, Khan Academy,

Stokstad, Marilyn, and Cothren, Michael Watt. Art: A Brief History. Sixth edition, Books Á La Carte ed., 2016.

Stubblebine, James H. “Byzantine Influence in Thirteenth-Century Italian Panel Painting.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers, vol. 20, 1966, pp. 85–101. JSTOR, JSTOR,

“Virgin and Child Enthroned, and Prophets (Santa Trinita Maestà).” Pagina Principale,

“Virgin and Child Enthroned, Surrounded by Angels and Saints (Ognissanti Maestà).” Pagina Principale,


Sonia Aktar

November 19th, 2018

Dr. Carrie Hall

English 1101

Revision Paper

“Why Don’t You Get It?”

(The Guardian)

What is “sexual harassment”? What is rape? How about catcalling? Do you understand how it feels to go through any of these things? In today’s world we constantly hear about individuals that claim they were victims. Maybe you went through something like it, but you don’t tell people about it. It has become so common that we have responses coming from all around the world.. We often don’t understand how someone feels going through it. Instead, we tend to question and blame the victim. We should be supportive to anyone who has gone through something like sexual harassment, rape, or catcalling. We should not question them or  their experience. It’s necessary to understand something very well before questioning it.

Sexual harassment has existed since the beginning of time. From when there were slaves to still existing in present day. African American slaves used to get raped by their owners. There was no legal laws to protect them. It wasn’t brought to attention until recently in many countries while other countries have recognized it while back. However this did not assure that these kinds of acts have stopped or decreased. It has been a worldwide issue for a very long time and it just has been getting worse and worse. The news we see on sexual harassment and rape just getting more depressing and disgusting as time goes by.

Women have finally been speaking out and telling their stories. We only know about it because these allegations are against our government officials or public figures. Not paying attention to these people speaking out can only affects our government systems and having the wrong people in power. If we ignore it, then people think it’s right for something like this to happen. Recently, President Donald Trump has nominated  judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Before the nomination, a women contacted the Washington Post with allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh back in high school. Two other women have also accused him of the same. He denied these allegations, but there were many evidence that proves what these women were saying. These women were given the chance to tell the story, but people questioned them,

“Why are you coming out to tell your story now?”

Maybe they did report the problem when it happened but no one paid attention to it because it wasn’t against a powerful person, but now it is.


“Why didn’t you do anything about it when it happened?”

My response to that is,

“Do you really understand what it’s like to go through that?!”

Maybe not! It might be that you never went through it, but it’s not right to ask a question like that? People think these women come out to with “stories” just to get attention and fame.

“Why on Earth would anyone want fame for being raped or sexually harassed?”

It takes so much courage to talk about being sexually harassed or raped in public where the whole world will know about it. These women have explained why they chose to speak out now, people still don’t seem to understand. FBI did go on with an investigation, but there is no result on that. It wasn’t worth it for these women to speak out because they didn’t want to tell the world, and they did not succeed in what they wanted as a response.

What about catcalling? Isn’t that something almost all women go through once in life. Some men do as well nowadays, but it’s not so common with men. It happens all the time with women. When someone says, “Look at that beautiful ass.” How does that feel? It definitely isn’t worse than being touched, but it isn’t something anyone would like. If you know how bad it feels to be catcalled, imagine being sexually harassed or raped. We still forget that and question people who go through it. How can we not understand how it feels? Sometimes I just think to myself that if the person who is harassing you or catcalling you, would understand how you feel than they most likely wouldn’t do it. If people put themselves in the shoes of the victim, they would better understand. Only someone who went through the same or similar understands you. The rest just either don’t understand or don’t care.

“Hey gorgeous, want a ride home?”

“You’re looking so fine today!”

“Can I get your number?”


Unfortunately, I have experienced catcalling so many times in my life till now, I can understand what it’s like to go through something like that. Something like sexual harassment and rape is on another level. It’s out of what I can imagine. People become mentally unstable and unhealthy. Catcalling is so common and it’s not something people talk about. It’s just not considered something that is a big problem because it doesn’t harm anyone, but it can lead to different consequences. It’s always important to do something about it before it’s too late. Everytime someone gets catcalled, they just walk away and ignore it. As soon as it’s over that’s the end of the story.  Sometimes when I get catcalled I just want to stop and just talk to that person to understand what they are thinking when they do this. I am so curious to know why they do what they do. I wanna ask them,

“Do you know how it is to be catcalled?”

“What would you do if you were in my place?”

“What do you get from doing this?”

“Why do you do it?”

“Did you ever go through this?”

“Doesn’t it make you feel disrespectful and disgusting to do this?”


When do we question things? When we don’t understand it. When we want to deny it. Don’t question until you fully understand something because then you wouldn’t even need to ask any questions. Asking certain type of questions is like blaming the victim for what happened to them. Being supportive and standing by someone is very helpful and something everyone should do. We can ask questions to a certain extent to help the person not to demotivate them. It’s not easy to go through these things in life and if people question you then it’s even more difficult. Let’s try and understand and support what’s right and whose right!


Works Cited

Gill, Gurvinder. “Catcalling: Women Write in Chalk to Stop Street Harassment.” BBC News, BBC, 2 July 2018,

Golshan, Tara, and Li Zhou. “Where Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate Confirmation Process Stands.” Vox, Vox, 24 Sept. 2018,

Nolo. “The History of Sexual Harassment Law.”, Nolo, 16 Sept. 2014,