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In the northern part of Italy, between Venice and Verona, there is the ancient and beautiful city of Padua, the university center, often called the "city of saints and scholars". It is decorated with the building of the University of Padua, similar to a small Renaissance fortress, and two giant basilicas - San Antonio and Santa Giustina. But still not they, but a small and modest outside Scrovegni Chapel is the main attraction of Padua, because Giotto, the great reformer of Italian painting, has painted its interior space, and for 7 centuries the pilgrims and tourists are amazed by the bright blue ceiling and three tiers of wonderful frescos dedicated to genealogy and life of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.
In the center, in an oval frame supported by angels, Jesus sits in all his splendor. To the left and to the right in a row with Him, each on a separate throne, sit the apostles (the most luxurious throne belongs to the apostle Peter). Above them are the angels' arms, the slender ranks of the heavenly host. The most interesting are two separate angelic figures under the very vault. They proclaim the discovery of the New Jerusalem and, as it were, wrap the edges of a canvas or parchment, emphasizing the illusory nature of what is happening. It can be interpreted in two ways. Either all the earthly manifestations are illusory before the higher heavenly reality. Or Giotto alludes to us that everything he wrote on the wall of the Scrovegni Chapel, with all the naturalism, is just art.
Below Christ there is a cross, which simultaneously acts as a dividing line between heaven and hell. In Paradise, among the saints, righteous, kings and other secular and church nobles, Giotto also places himself, depicted in profile, in the artist's recognizable hat.
At the bottom of the fresco, above the entrance, we see the kneeling figure of Enrico Scrovegni. It was he who ordered the construction of the Chapel del Arena in order to beg God for forgiveness for his father-usurer. In the Middle Ages usury was equated with mortal sins, and even Dante in the "Divine Comedy" places Scrovegni the father in the seventh circle of hell. On the fresco of Giotto Enrico, Scrovein presents the model of the chapel of the Virgin Mary, John and St. Catherine.
An important expressive tool in Giotto, as in all medieval aesthetics based on the idea of hierarchy, are the dimensions and proportions. The largest, of course, is the figure of Christ. Further, the characters are ranked according to the degree of closeness to God: the apostles and angels are larger, the mere mortals in the "paradise" half are smaller, and the figures of sinners in hell surrounding the ape-like Satan are very small, insignificant. They fall, are subjected to violence and devoured with four tongues of flame.
It is known that Giotto, driven by the customer, was working on the Scrovegni Chapel in great haste. It is believed that the "Last Judgment" could be written before the design of the main part of the chapel (and therefore the layout of the Enrique is somewhat different from the appearance that the chapel acquired in its final form), and most of the work on the drawings of Giotto was carried out by his students.
Opinions about this Giotto fresco are different. Some take it to argue that the work is devoid of the inherent Giotto's expression, and her composition - clarity. Others, on the contrary, believe that from all the images of the Last Judgment it is Giotto's work that is comparable in strength to the impression produced with frescoes by Michelangelo, created 200 years later for the Sistine Chapel.