Madonna Enthroned

Madonna Enthroned

Date late 13th century CE

Movement Byzantine

Medium Tempera on panel

Dimensions 32.125 x 19.375″

Housed at National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Andrew Mellon Collection


The origin of this piece is largely debated given the many different styles and symbols employed— the red background of the angels’ medallions and Christ’s gesture of blessing are Western, for example, while the way in which the Madonna holds Christ is Byzantine. Like Byzantine architecture, the piece has a wonderful, heavenly weightlessness to it; this quality is accentuated by highlights of the forms that allow the glimmering background to shine through, making them appear almost transparent —note the sunbursts of the garments, the geometric patterns of the throne, and even the faces of the Madonna and Christ; this has led some scholars to believe that this piece may have been created by a mosaicist.