Video: Giotto’s Frescoes in “The Arena Chapel,” Dante’s Inspiration

Posted: 2012/10/05 in Art Historians, Art History Trivia

“Giotto dio Bondone (1266-1323), The Lamentation, c. 1305″ at the Arena Chapel, also known as, Scrovegni Chapel” in Padua, Veneto,  Italy.

About: Church built on the site of an ancient Roman arena. Project was commissioned by Enrico Scrovegni wanted to buy his way out of hell as his father Reginaldo degli Scrovegni made the family fortune through banking. Charging excessive interest on financial loans was considered a “usury” a sin that could result in the “exclusion from the Christian sacraments.” Enrico Scrovegni who was concerned with the salvation of his soul.

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Located in the apse of the Church is Enrico’s tomb. There is the “Last Judgement” where he presents an architect’s model of the chapel to the Virgin Mary. The Last Judgement may have been the inspiration for Dante’s Seventh Ring of Hell. The next post we will have video lecture that discusses this in detail. 

Critique: Dramatic expressions. Believable anatomy indicated through fabric. Modeling, foreshortened figures with volume (not flat), overlapping shapes, action poses (mostly angels). Real since of physicality, earth like – less supernatural. Natural realism based on the artist observing his surroundings and not copying prototypes. Possible influence could have been popular passion plays. Another influence was the new humanism inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, whose Church he worked on before the Arena Chapel ,as an apprentice to his master Cimabue.

Giotto may have been the architect. The interiors are covered with panels of fresco murals (water based pigments on plaster), and possibly tempura’s (egg with water based paints), and encaustics (wax fusing). Panels cycles show the Life of the Virgin, Vices and Virtues, and The Life of Christ. He also depicts “God” dispatching in angel, Gabriel. The Last Judgment may have inspired Dante’s Inferno.

Giotto, Dante and the Arena Chapel | Professor Kenney Mencher | 43 Minutes



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