Cimabue and Giotto  

Posted by Megan Moulos in , , ,

Cimabue the "Father of Painting"
Crucifix (Christus Patiens)
Panel, 448 x 390 cm
Museo dell'Opera di Santa Croce, Florence

Cimabue is trying to break out of the Byzantine mold, but Christ still appears to be very stylized and formulaic. In spite of this, the strange contrapostto of the figure and transparent drapery show a definite break with the Middle Ages. Crucifixes like this one were made to be hung in the aspe of a church.

The Madonna in Majesty (Maestà)
Tempera on panel, 385 x 223 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

This Madonna is still highly stylized, set in the typical gold leaf background. The large, almond eyes, elongated nose and small lips are all vestiges of Byzantine creations. Tempura paintings of Mary, the Saints, and Christ were stern, unapproachable, otherworldly. Stoic, inhumanabstractions stripped away human individuality and placed the figures on a different plane.

Giotto "The Great Master"
Tempera on wood, 578 x 406 cm
Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Giotto was interested in transforming the Classical sculptures he studied into painted images. He wanted to convey the mass and weight of human beings on a flat surface, in ways lost to the Middle Ages. His early Crucifix elaborates on the work done by Cimabue. Christ now hangs limply on the cross, his body more naturalistic than ever. One can see where gravity pulls his body.

Last Judgment
Fresco, 1000 x 840 cm
Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

Many of Giotto's frescos can be seen at the Arena Chapel at Padua. The Last Judgement, scenes from the life of Mary, and the Passion of the Christ are depicted in numerous frescos. Many churchgoers of Giotto's day were illiterate, and these paintings were indespensible for teaching the masses the word of the lord.

No. 26 Scenes from the Life of Christ: 10. Entry into Jerusalem
Fresco, 200 x 185 cm
Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

Here we can see Giotto's interest in the weight of figures and the way drapery falls on the human body. Giotto was not afraid to show figures in many different positions, a break from the Byzantine frontal rigidity. The figures are humanized, earthly. Giotto also breaks with tradition by painting a blue sky rather than using gold leaf.

No. 36 Scenes from the Life of Christ: 20. Lamentation (The Mourning of Christ)
Fresco, 200 x 185 cm
Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

In his Lamentation, Giotto exhibits his understanding of spatial relationships. The picture clearly shows a fore-, middle- and background. Two figures in the foreground have their backs to the viewer, something unheard of in the century previous. The figures show emotion, their faces contorted in individual grief.

Images from

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 9:21 AM and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 Holla'd back


I hope you did well on the test! Giotto is the man. [:

and I have a real blog too, but it's on livejournal...which I should be ashamed to admit hah.

October 4, 2007 at 2:34 AM

I read this forum since 2 weeks and now i have decided to register to share with you my ideas. [url=]:)[/url]

March 7, 2010 at 11:34 PM

Post a Comment