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Giotto di Bondone, Crucified Christ (1303-1305)

Musei Civici agli Eremitani, Padua

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Author: Giotto di Bondone
Subject: Crucified Christ
Dating: 1303-1305
Technique: tempera on wood panel
Dimensions: 223 x 164 cm
Location: Musei Civici agli Eremitani, Padua

The precious wooden Cross, currently kept in the Musei Civici agli Eremitani in Padua, was originally located between the apse and the nave of the Scrovegni Chapel. In fact, it was part of the rich decoration of the church, and also from a stylistic point of view, it features numerous references to the frescoes of the likely contemporary chapel.
The precious wood panel is bordered by a rich carved frame that, on the ends, opens up into polylobed panels where the Madonna, Saint John and, in the upper part, Benedictory God The Father are painted. The image of crucified Christ stands out in the centre, with his head slightly bent forward: Giotto paints with careful attention the face features and the body anatomy, but it is the light that defines the volumes through a delicate chiaroscuro.
The despair of the Madonna and Saint John's gestures reminds the pain scenes of the Passion of Jesus painted in the chapel, and is the symbol of that moved and felt religiousness that Giotto constantly searches in his work.
The rear of the Cross is pretty damaged, but it is still possible to read part of the description. In the centre of the panel there is the tondo with the depiction of the Mystic Lamb. On the rear of the four polylobes of the Cross, there are as many tondos with the symbols of the Evangelists.
The dimensions of the Padua?s Cross are fairly reduced compared to the previous works of Giotto and Cimabue: the small dimension and the abundant use of gold and inlays make it a tiny jewel aimed at embellishing the already rich decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel.

Photo Shoot

Image Size: pixel (29.743 x 38.403)
Colour Depht: 16 bit for channel
Shooting: December 2008
Shots: 235

Camera: Nikon D3 
Acquisition Software: Nikon Camera Control Pro 2
Postprocessing Software: Nikon Capture NX 2


Courtesy by Comune di Padova - Direzione Musei

Musei Civici agli Eremitani

All rights reserved

Giotto di Bondone (Florence 1267 - 1337)

The site of the Scrovegni Chapel represents a turning point in the pictorial path of Giotto.
At the beginning of his work, after the first contacts with Cimabue, Arnolfo di Cambio, and the Roman artistic culture, Giotto participates in the decoration of the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi: in particular, the critics have identified in the Stories of Isaac on the Nave of the Upper Basilica, the first personal and independent intervention of Giotto.
However, it is in the Stories of Saint Francis painted in the lower part of the nave, where Giotto imposed himself as an independent and famous artist.
Giotto worked on the Franciscan Stories between 1288 – when Niccolò IV ascended to the papal throne, the first pope from the Franciscan Order – and 1297. Thanks to the success gained in Assisi, he was commissioned important works in Rome, by Pope Boniface VIII, as well as in Florence, where his presence is documented in 1301. Those are the years of the Crucifix in Santa Maria Novella, of the Polittico di Badia at the Uffizi gallery, of the Crucifix in the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini: in these works, he enhances the use of colours, chiaroscuro, volumes of the figures in relation to the space, improving his already innovative language tested in Assisi.
The peak of this path is the decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. Giotto worked at it between 1303 and 1305, and the critics quite agree on ascribing to the Master the conceiving of the composition of the structure, as well as the frescoes that cover the whole surface of the chapel. During this decorative campaign, Giotto also painted the wood panel with God The father on the Throne, set in the big arch of the Chapel, and the wooden Cross, which are currently located in the Museo degli Eremitani.
Upon completion of this work, he returned to Assisi, where he painted the frescoes of the Maddalena Chapel in the Lower Basilica, before going to Rome (around 1311) where he worked on the mosaic portraying the Navicella degli Apostoli (The Apostoles' small ship) in the atrium of the Basilica of Saint Peter.
In the following years, Giotto was invited at the most important Italian courts and families: to Naples, at the Angevine Court, and to Milan, where he worked for Azzone Visconti.
The last big frescoes executed by the Master are in Florence in the Basilica di Santa Croce: the Life Episodes of Saint John the Evangelist and of Saint John the Baptist in Cappella Peruzzi, and the Life Episodes of Saint Francis on the walls of Cappella Bardi.
In his last years, Giotto even ventured on the design of the Campanile of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore, whose construction began in 1334, three years before he died.