Crucifixion (1305) by Giotto

Crucifixion - Giotto - c.1315

Artwork Information

MediumTempera on Panel
Dimensions200 x 185 cm
Art MovementProto Renaissance
Current LocationLouvre, Paris, France

About Crucifixion

The artwork titled “Crucifixion” is a religious painting executed by the artist Giotto around the year 1315. Utilizing tempera on panel, this exemplary piece of the Proto Renaissance art movement measures 200 by 185 centimeters. The artwork is held at the Louvre in Paris, France, providing viewers with a poignant exemplar of Giotto’s contributions to the early stages of Renaissance art.

In this artwork, the scene is focused on the figure of Jesus Christ affixed to the cross, a central motif in Christian iconography representing the crucifixion. The cross, almost filling the entire panel, is depicted in a way that emphasizes its structural and symbolic importance. Christ’s body is rendered with a sense of weight and volume, displaying Giotto’s skill in human anatomy that was pioneering for the time. His head, adorned with a thorny crown, tilts in a gesture of suffering and death.

The cross is detailed with intricate patterns and inscriptions, and at its terminals, it expands to hold other figures and inscriptions. At the upper terminal, there’s a representation of the mourning pelican, an early Christian symbol of sacrifice, which is feeding its young with its blood, and adjacent to it is the Latin inscription ‘IESUS NAZARENUS REX IUDAEORUM’ (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews). On the horizontal beam, near the hands of Christ, are two smaller panels each depicting a solitary saintly figure with a halo, likely representing the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist, both of whom are traditional figures in crucifixion scenes.

The figures are painted with a strong sense of solemnity and reverence, consistent with the religious significance of the scene. The golden background, although stripped of any environmental detailing, serves to highlight the sacredness of the event and reflects the medieval tradition of gold ground panel paintings. The color scheme and the careful attention to the textures of skin and fabric demonstrate Giotto’s ability to convey a profound narrative through his attention to detail and his pioneering approach to realism.

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