Giotto as Narrative Painter

Creative work of Florentine painter Giotto opens a new page in the history of Italian art. Before the advent of his paintings, the Italian artists firmly embraced the canons of Byzantine and medieval technology of painting. Giotto’s creativity in the fine art of Italy absolutely rejected previous traditions; the painter refused to follow them. The Italians themselves claim that this great master was at the forefront of a new era in art, and in many ways they are undoubtedly right. The historical significance of Giotto is a completely new compositional principle and discovery of a new method of representation. Keeping the tradition of Gothic art, Giotto takes out a point of view outside the picture. It was the first attempt of such a kind in the history of Italian painting. Giotto is shifting the focus of the plot and finds a new way of interpretation the images. By changing the color, he became an innovator in the nature of construction of volume and space.

In the period of 1302-1305, Giotto worked on wall paintings of Arena Chapel that was named after the customer Cappella degli Scrovegni in Padua. He arranged Frescoes of Chapel in three rows on a back wall. Giotto linked together thirty-eight scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary and Christ. In his frescoes, he presented the Gospel stories as real-life events. Fresco “The Lamentation of Christ” conducts the viewer through the main actions of the New Testament. It is one of the central frescoes of Arena Chapel. However, this is not a miniature, where everything that happens is inscribed in an incredibly restricted spatial framework. On the contrary, the actual events takes place here. All characters are involved in the action and each of them is located in such a way so that everything can be logically explained. Every gesture of a character is specific and corresponds exactly to his state of mind. The innovative technique used in this work has some emotional background. The artist uses pastel colors of green, red and yellow. The details of images create a bright and coherent picture. Using the angular foreshortenings and simplistic ancient perspective, Giotto showed the stage space and the illusion of depth, clarity and sharpness of the structure. In a simple plot, the painter was able to show a deep context of how people cried over Jesus and how much He was dear to them. This fresco by Giotto earned a well-deserved fame. Since then, his name was among the great masters of narrative painting.

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