Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel
Giotto, arguably the greatest medieval painter, covered this glorious chapel with frescoes telling Bible stores with a new realism. Each scene is a slice of the real world as we can see why Giotto is considered the first modern painter.
Complete Video Script
[124, Giotto, Scrovegni Chapel, 1305, Padova, Italy] Nearby in Padova, Giotto covered this glorious chapel with frescoes telling Bible stories with a realism that was astonishing for its day.
[125, Giotto, 1267–1337] Moving beyond the medieval norm with the standard gold leaf background, Giotto sets his scenes in the real world — rocks, trees, animals. His people, with their voluminous robes, are as sturdy and massive as Greek statues. Their gestures are simple but expressive: arm raised shows anger, head tilted down says dejection, and a tender kiss? Caring love.
 He captures the dramatic moment when Jesus was arrested. Amid the chaos, Giotto skillfully throws the focus on the central action: Judas looks Jesus straight in the eyes and betrays him with that infamous kiss. After his execution, Jesus is taken down off the cross, and his followers weep over his lifeless body. John spreads his arms and wails, his cries echoed by anguished angels above. Each face is a study in grief…of the vulnerability and strong emotions of these almost believable angels.
 Giotto, considered the first modern painter, created scenes that were beyond anything that had been done in the entire Middle Ages. By painting biblical themes with a new realism, Giotto was embracing centuries of medieval tradition while pointing the way to an exciting, more modern, future to come.