The painting was originally designed to be placed in the high altar of the Ognissanti Franciscan church in Florence. It is dated at around 1310, with most evidence of its attribution to Giotto coming in an early biography of Lorenzo Ghiberti which arrived around a century later.
Some of Giotto's installed paintings have been moved elsewhere from their original locations in order to ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy them as well as being confident that their condition is sufficiently protected. Considering the fact that so many of Giotto's work has been damaged or completely lost, it is pleasing that this particular artwork remains well cared for in one of the most prestigious art musems in the world.
It is the finer details of this painting that sets the artist out during this period. His use of multi-dimensional figures had not been seen before, where as his use of gold colouring was very much in line with previous works from others in the Italo-Byzantine movement. He would combine new and old, particularly during this time in his career when Giotto was continuing to develop as an artist.
Giotto makes a clear balance of importance in this composition, enlarging his central figures far beyond the supporting figures who line the edge of the canvas. The viewer is left in no doubt as to where their focus should lie. In fact, the baby himself is almost the same size as the adults who look on in admiration.
The throne being sat upon by the Madonna is in a strictly gothic style as confirmed by the Cosmatesque features that decorate its frontage. This approach had been seen since the Middle Ages in several of the Papal States. Another interesting aspect of the way in which Giotto put this painting together is in the distinct lack of space that sits on the outer edges of the scene. This again focuses one on the key elements.