This painting by the Florentine artist Cimabue (ca. 1240–1302) shows the Virgin Mary pointing with her right hand to her son, whom she is holding. This depiction is typical for the Byzantine model of the Virgin Hodegetria (Greek: Ὁδηγήτρια, literally: "She who shows the way."). In this iconographic depiction the Virgin Mary is holding the child Jesus at her side while pointing to him as the source of salvation for humankind. Mary's head usually inclines towards the child, who raises his hand in a blessing gesture. Mary's and her son's clothes feature a golden decoration known as damascene which was very popular in Italian medieval painting and typical for traditional Byzantine paintings. Eight angels surrounding them raise their throne. Beneath Mary and the child four prophets from the Old Testament (left to right: Jeremiah, Abraham, David and Isaiah) are depicted, holding phylacteries with writings from the Holy Scriptures. Cimabue was one of the most important painters in 13th-century Florence and reportedly the teacher of Giotto (ca. 1266–1337).
Cimabue (ca. 1240–1302): Virgin and Child Enthroned, and Prophets (Santa Trinita Maestà); tempera on wood, 384 x 223 cm, ca. 1290–1300; source: © The Uffizi Galleries.