Giotto Paints the Ognissanti Madonna

In 1311 Giotto returned to Florence, A document from 1313 shows his presence in Rome, where he executed a mosaic for the façade of the old St. Peter's Basilica, commissioned by Cardinal Jacopo Stefaneschi and now lost except for some fragments.

In Florence, where documents from 1314–1327 attest to his financial activities, he painted an altarpiece known as the Ognissanti Madonna and now in the Uffizi where it is famously exhibited beside Cimabue's Santa Trinita Madonna and Duccio's Rucellai Madonna.

It is highly informative to conduct a side-by-side comparison of the Ognissanti Madonna and the very similar Maestà of Giotto's master, Cimabue.

The Maestà is far less naturalistic, displaying many of the traits found in earlier Byzantine art. The figures are relatively two-dimensional, and their faces do not express much individuality, giving the image an ornamental, rather than representational, quality.

Giotto's Madonna, on the other hand, conveys a significant sense of depth perception, especially for the time. The figures seem more alive, and less rigid, as their clothing drapes convincingly over their forms; the Madonna's gaze is far more life-like, as is the body of the child on her lap.

The Ognissanti Madonna represents an important step in progress of Western art toward the near-photo realism attained by the late Renaissance artists.