GIOTTO (c. 1267-1337)

 

      The final break with the Byzantine tradition was accom­plished by Giotto di Bondone. He was the first giant in the long history of Italian painting; he was a painter, a sculptor and an architect. Now Giotto is regarded as the father of modem painting, but even in his own day Giotto's greatness was recog­nized by his contemporaries. They listed him as one of the great' men of the Floritine Republic, called him the pupil of Nature and said that Giotto revived the art of painting which had de­clined in Italy because of many invasions.

       Giotto's masterpiece is the cycle of frescoes, dating from 1305—1306, illustrating the life of the Virgin and the life of Christ, that lines the interior of the Arena Chapel in Padua. The Redemption of man is the subject, and Jesus and Mary are the protagonists. The two side walls are covered with frescoes on panels arranged in three layers. Giotto painted the Vices on the north wall, and the Virtues on the south wall.

      In one of the early scenes, Joachim among the Shepherds, Joachim, father of the Virgin, takes refuge with shepherds in the wilderness after his expulsion from the Temple. Humiliated, his head bowed, he stands before; two shepherds, one of whom scans his companion's face to see whether they dare to receive the outcast. The dog, the symbol of fidelity leaps in joyful greeting. Giotto accepted one scale for the figures and another for the surroundings including the animals and the sheepfold. For all his ability to project three-dimensional forms, Giotto is far from having the notion of visual unity. His landscape has an expressive purpose. The cubic rocks form a definite stage in space limited by the blue background. It does not represent the sky; it is an ideal heavenly colour that continues behind all the scenes. In order to emphasize the three-dimensionality of Joachims's figure, Giotto has designed his halo foreshortened in perspective.

      Giotto's Madonna and Child Enthroned, of about 1310, is a ceremonial representation of the Virgin as Queen of Heaven. The distant space is ruled out by the traditional background. Giotto introduced light and inward extension in a direct and convincing manner. He placed the throne above a marble step and the Virgin sits firmly within it. The angels kneeling in the foreground are solid. The angels and saints firmly stand on either side of the throne. Light without indication of source, models the forms so heavily that they resemble sculptural masses. Giotto's miracle lay in his ability to produce for the first time on a flat surface threedimensional forms. Giotto's facial types and drapery motives recall Gothic sculptures.

      In the Raising of Lazarus the composition divides into two groups: one centred around Lazarus, who has just risen from the tomb and is still wrapped in graveclothes is read together with the rock; the other beginning with prostrate Mary and Martha, culminates in Christ, who calls the dead man forth by a single gesture of his right hand against the blue. The calm authority is contrasted with the astonishment of the surrounding figures.

In the Lamentation Giotto has enriched the dialogue between life and death. Instead of burst of grief he has staged a tragedy. The figures grieve in the manner possible to their individual personalities. Giotto added to the scene mourners who turn their backs to the spectators; one upholds Christ's head, the other — his right hand. Mary with one arm around Christ's shoulder searches his countenance. Only the angels can cry in pure grief, each halfhidden in clouds to show that they are supernatural. In this scene Giotto's brushwork is as calm as in the other. He achieved this effect not only by the arrangement of figures but also by the diagonal line of the rock, descending toward the faces of Mary and Christ, At the upper right, as if to typify the desolation of the scene a bare tree stands against the blue. Giotto expected his observers to remember that in accordance with the medieval legend, the Tree of Knowledge was withered after the sin of Adam and Eve and made fruitful again after the sacrifice of Christ.

 

 

  Notes

Joachim among the Shepherds —«Встреча Иоакима с пастухами»

Raising of Lazarus— «Воскрешение Лазаря»

Lamentation — «Оплакивание»

Madonna and Child Enthroned— «Величание» («Маеста» из Оньиссанти)

Redemption — Искупление Грехов

The Vices and the Virtues — Грехии Добродетели

protagonist — главный герой

Joachim [jenekim] — Иоаким

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