Monday, September 23, 2013

GIOTTO's SCROVEGNI CHAPEL - 2 other images to notice

GIOTTO's SCROVEGNI CHAPEL - 2 other images to notice

If you have time, after looking at the scenes I have suggested, notice 2 other
images in the LAST DAYS OF CHRIST cycle on the lowest tier of the Arena
chapel walls (1303-06).
Firstly on the left wall as you face the Last Judgment:
1st image: KISS OF JUDAS
In Giotto's hand, the story of Judas' betrayal of Christ to the Roman soldiers turns into a royal battle. Most of the spears and torches held by the soldiers point toward the 2 central characters, Christ on the left with a gold halo and Judas in golden yellow robe that sweeps to enfold both figures:
The expanse of color in the robe also serves to isolate the two protagonists' heads, and the viewer focuses on the confrontation of faces, the face of pure good on the left and that of evil on the right.
Judas purses his lips to kiss Christ to identify him to the soldiers who were worried about grabbing the wrong man because one of the apostles, James the Minor, resembled Christ. (Probably Italians to this day kiss on both cheeks so that they will not be associated with Judas' single kiss.) The intensity of the expressions of Christ and Judas just adds to the powerful surge of the crowds painted into the scenes. Judas can't quite look at him, as he knows how horrible it is to be a rat; he looks slightly up so as not to face his truth.

The drama of Christ's meeting his betrayer face-to-face presents him as much entrapped in Judas' robe as in the knowledge of the end result of his arrest by the soldiers. But Jesus is not afraid. As Giotto portrays him, he is serene as he looks into the hatred of the man in front of him. The even proportions of Christ's head are juxtaposed with the short forehead, deep-cut eyes, prominent nose, and large jowl of Judas. For the artist, goodness must be aesthetically pleasing, evil ugly. But the confrontation takes over that competition as Christ is surrounded and swallowed up by the attacking crowd. Only Peter lashes out on the left, cutting off the ear of one of the Romans.

2nd image:  LAMENTATION  (on right wall as you face the Last Judgment)

The Lamentation, sometimes also called The Deposition, is the scene of Christ's body being taken down from the cross after his death.
Everything, including the landscape line of the hill, combines to direct the viewer's eye down to the meeting of the faces of Christ and his Mother.
 Mary is convulsed with pain and sorrow as she reaches to touch her child's body and see him one more time, even if his lifeless eyes cannot return her gaze. Giotto makes the corners of her mouth tremble and he stretches the eyebrow lines and eyelines to extend her abject wretchedness.
        The artist allows the viewer into the scene by painting two mourning figures seated on the ground with their backs to us; when we then take on their viewpoint, we enter the scene as mourners, too.
Other women weep around them; John the Evangelist throws open his arms in mourning, unable to understand.

Even the angels are wracked with sadness and pain. Giotto is a master of the art of painting feelings and this scene is where he best expresses the nadir of human grief.

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