Spotlight Artwork: Giotto (1267 - 1337) - Gothic/Proto-Renaissance Art

LamentationArena Chapel (Capella Scrovegni),

Padua, Italy,

ca. 1305.


6’ 3/4” x 6’ 3/4”


In his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, Giorgio Vasari described Giotto as making a decisive break with the prevalent Byzantine style and as initiating "the great art of painting as we know it today, introducing the technique of drawing accurately from life, which had been neglected for more than two hundred years".[5]

Giotto's masterwork is the decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel, in Padua, also known as the Arena Chapel, which was completed around 1305. The fresco cycle depicts the Life of the Virgin and the Life of Christ. It is regarded as one of the supreme masterpieces of the Early Renaissance.[6]

That Giotto painted the Arena Chapel and that he was chosen by the Commune of Florence in 1334 to design the new campanile (bell tower) of the Florence Cathedral are among the few certainties about his life. Almost every other aspect of it is subject to controversy: his birth date, his birthplace, his appearance, his apprenticeship, the order in which he created his works, whether or not he painted the famous frescoes in the Upper Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi and his burial place.

(excerpt from



CURIOUS? Here's some more information: The video below compares Giotto's Madonna Enthroned with that of Cimabue's

Essential Questions - Watch the video and read the synopsis prior to answering these questions.

1. This painting is directly across from another....As you consider the content of this work, what is important about the placement (across from, not next to!) and relationship of these two images? 2. How was composition traditionally used in religious paintings? How did Giotto change that? 3. In addition to the compositional innovation explained above, what other revolutionary and ground-breaking things did Giotto do, which earned his place art history?

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