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Giotto, Scenes from the Life of Saint Francis
crop_original Artworks
Giotto frescos in Santa Croce
The Peruzzi and Bardi Chapels

Giotto is considered the 'Proto-Renaissance' artist, the man who started working in the style that put Florence on the map artistically and revolutionized Western art. Florence's church of Santa Croce houses two important fresco cycles by this great master.

In the Peruzzi chapel, Giotto painted scenes from the life of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, while in the Bardi chapel he painted stories from the life of San Francis.  The walls are divided into large narrative scenes, and the cartoon-like chronology of the stories, the evident emotions of the figures and the volume of the painting must have been stunning to contemporary viewers.

Ascension of St John in the Peruzzi chapel
Ascension of St John in the Peruzzi chapel

The style, compared to his earlier frescos, seems more simplified, but the construction of the visual space is much better than in his previous works. The space is constructed in a more expansive manner, giving each figure a more plausible, correct space. Moreover, in these frescoes Giotto seems to have almost mastered the laws of perspective. Only ten years later, the Lorenzetti brothers will be able to understand and master these laws at the same level.

Critics still do not agree on the date in which these works were created, but they are certain that they were painted before 1320, when Giotto was 60 years old, and his art was more mature than when he was working on the Arena Chapel in Padova.

The frescoes aren't in perfect conditions, particularly those of the Peruzzi chapel, and this makes it more difficult to critically analyze and collocate the frescoes in their historical context. It is widely believed, however, that these frescos are some of his best.

Info: Peruzzi Chapel, Bardi Chapel

roomPiazza Santa Croce, 16
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