Sunday, March 29, 2015

Giotto: Palm Sunday

Entry Into Jerusalem
So they brought the colt to Jesus and put their cloaks over it. And he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!”   (Mark 11:7-10 

Last year during Holy Week, I posted paintings by Fra Angelico (unfortunately this link will show Easter first, so you'll have to scroll to the end to get to Palm Sunday). Most of the paintings were from the Armadio degli Argenti, which is described in one of these posts. This year I thought I'd do the same with frescoes by Giotto from the Cappella degli Scrovegni in Padua, also known as the Arena Chapel because it's next to the arena.

There is a wonderful four-part series from Khan Academy about the Scrovegni Chapel here. It takes a while to watch, but if you are at all interested, it is well worth the time.

Giotto was probably the first painter in the 14th century to move away from the Byzantine style of art that had been favored for the past two centuries. Although he was not as skilled as Fra Angelico at portraying the human figure with accuracy (see the detail from Entry into Jerusalem below), his work is quite beautiful and detailed--and then there is that lovely blue which I will write about later in the week.

Note the rather squat roundness of this character who has climbed a tree to watch Christ's triumphal procession. I can't even tell if this is a man or woman, child or adult, human or angel. Look at that almost comic foot and the face looks like it is carved from wood. Nevertheless, there is something charming about the figure, and the branches of the tree are lovely.
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Giotto's life was also quite different from that of Fra Angelico who was a Dominican Friar. Giotto was a married man and a father and was quite wealthy. Their work is quite similar, though, in subject matter and in the setting of the scenes of the Bible narrative.

Unless otherwise noted, all the pictures in this series were found at the Web Gallery of Art.


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