Description of the artwork «Lamentation of Christ. Scenes from the life of Christ»
"Lamentation of Christ" - The fresco of the Padua Scrovegni Chapel is one of the main masterpieces of Giotto di Bondone. Overcoming the Byzantine canon, his "Lamentation" opened up many unexplored techniques and new possibilities for art. "Pieta" (the Greek word for mourning) will soon become a very popular subject in Italian painting. And this will happen not without the influence of Giotto's work, which has concentrated in itself many innovative finds.
What are his artistic discoveries?
First, in the narrative. We see that Giotto perceives "Lamentation of Christ" not as a ready icon-painting formula. On the contrary, he is interested to tell the viewer this story anew - the way it was before nobody did it. Giotto is frankly passionate about dramaturgy. It is important for him to show the emotional meaning of what is happening, how differently the heroes of the evangelical events express their sadness. The mourning of the Virgin Mary is silent and inescapable. Women wring their hands in despair and melancholy. Mary Magdalene is crying at the feet of Christ. Stoic suffer the sorrow of Nicodemus and Joseph Arimafesky. And the widely diverged hands of John the Divine, the beloved disciple of the Savior, are simultaneously reminiscent of the crucifix and about something birdlike (the eagle symbolizes this apostle in religious literature).
However, the characters of Giotto in "Lamentation" are not emblems or extras. They are all differently involved in the action, and their gestures and poses (noted Giotto quite accurately and transmitted with unprecedented for the beginning of the XIV century realism and at the same time reminiscent of the heroes of the Greek tragedy, who in the throes of passions raise their hands up or close their faces ) form a single emotional background. In Byzantine painting, postures and gestures had a symbolic meaning, but from now on the painting will use them to express feelings. Giotto is not just people, but even the angels are losing iconic static and begin to show emotions.
The second discovery of Giotto follows from the previous one. It consists in the fact that painting ceases to be a simple illustration of the biblical text and acquires an independent value. The sacred plot becomes interesting to the artist not only in itself, but also from the point of view of revealing new spatial possibilities, unexpected composite solutions. For example, what happens if, shift the semantic center of the picture away from its geometric center? "Lamentation" successfully solves this creative task. The semantic center here, of course, are the close faces of Christ and the Virgin Mary, taken out to the lower left corner.
In general, two heads, located close to each other, is Giotto's favorite reception. The artist is able to extract from it psychological and emotional effects. Suffice it to recall the set noses to the nose of Iscariot and Christ in "The betrayal of Judas". But there two faces, focusing on themselves all the attention of the viewer, are located in the spatial center of the fresco. In "Lamentation" the semantic center is strongly biased, deliberately shifted. But look how masterfully Giotto directs the viewer's view towards him: it is where our eyes are directed, sliding down the diagonal of the rock, brightly contrasting the sky. It is there, in the lower left corner, like the radii of the invisible circle, the eyes of the angels hovering in the sky, and the people bending around the body of Christ. The composition acquires an extraordinary thoughtfulness and harmony.
Of course, in retrospect, after all the "Lamentation" of Italians, Spaniards and the Netherlands, written in the Renaissance and Baroque periods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6th), Giotto's fresco may seem infinitely naive. But it marks the way of all further European art.