The Virgin and Child with Two Angels

The painting is a small-scale representation of the monumental versions of the Maestà which Cimabue painted on panel for Santa Trinita, Florence and S. Francesco, Pisa. Although Italian artists were still influenced by the formal style of Byzantine painting, Cimabue's composition attempts to indicate three-dimensional space by placing the wooden throne at an angle. The Christ Child clings to his mother's hand like a small baby, instead of raising his hand in the gesture of blessing usually seen in Byzantine art.

This exquisite and extremely rare panel is the only work by Cimabue in Great Britain and one of only two surviving small-scale paintings by the artist. It almost certainly formed part of a diptych, probably showing several scenes from the Passion of Christ, which included the Flagellation in the Frick Collection, New York. The other scenes, probably six, are lost.

Key facts

Artist dates
documented 1272; died 1302
Full title
The Virgin and Child with Two Angels
Date made
about 1280-5
Medium and support
Egg tempera on wood
25.6 x 20.8 cm
Acquisition credit
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the National Gallery, 2000
Inventory number
Location in Gallery