Giotto and His Publics: Three Paradigms of Patronage by Julian Gardner

By Julian Gardner

This probing research of 3 works via Giotto and the consumers who commissioned them is going a long way past the clichés of Giotto because the founding determine of Western portray. It lines the interactions among Franciscan friars and robust bankers, illuminating the complicated interaction among mercantile wealth and the iconography of poverty.

Political strife and non secular faction lacerated fourteenth-century Italy. Giotto’s commissions are most sensible understood opposed to the heritage of this social turmoil. They mirrored the calls for of his consumers, the necessities of the Franciscan Order, and the restlessly artistic genius of the painter. Julian Gardner examines this crucial interval of Giotto’s path-breaking occupation via works initially created for Franciscan church buildings: Stigmatization of Saint Francis from San Francesco at Pisa, now within the Louvre, the Bardi Chapel cycle of the Life of St. Francis in Santa Croce at Florence, and the frescoes of the crossing vault above the tomb of Saint Francis within the reduce Church of San Francesco at Assisi.

those work of art have been carried out in the course of a twenty-year interval while inner tensions divided the friars themselves and whilst the Order used to be faced through an intensive swap of papal coverage towards its defining vow of poverty. The Order had accumulated nice wealth and equipped ostentatious church buildings, alienating many Franciscans within the procedure and incurring the hostility of alternative Orders. Many components in Giotto’s frescoes, together with references to St. Peter, Florentine politics, and church structure, have been integrated to fulfill consumers, redefine the determine of Francis, and have a good time the dominant crew in the Franciscan brotherhood.

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65 The first scene of the Pisan predella thus grounds the Order historically and gives Innocent III’s approval an unmistakable local nuance. Furthermore, the intrusion of Saint Peter into a historically attested episode clearly demonstrates that the Pisan Dream of Innocent III is a later version of the Franciscan scene also present in the nave of the Upper Church at Assisi, and serves thus, in some mea­sure, as a terminus ante quem for the Assisi cycle. 68 But the Pisa panel shows both papal dream and Francis’s own vision at La Verna, although by the end of the thirteenth century, the epistemological interrelationship between the two phenomena had substantially changed.

88 By the time of the painting of Giotto’s Pisa altarpiece, Francis’s Stigmatization had lost some of the controversial charge it had possessed earlier on. 89 By 1300 the veridicity of the Stigmatization was no ­longer doubted, even among such traditional opponents as the Order of Preachers. 92 The book he holds is not indeed a simple distraction from the sacred event but a reference to the sortes Biblicae which Francis’s companion had just performed. ”94 Not all the companions were sat­is­fied by Thomas of Celano’s stylized account.

The General Chapter of the Order meeting at Narbonne in 1260 had apparently commissioned a new synthetic life of Francis from the recently elected minister-­general, Bonaventura da Bagnoregio. 49 Posthumous miracles, it should also be remembered, normally tell us nothing about the biography or historicity of the holy person. There is now a large consensus that the Louvre Stigmatization is an autograph work, although there is some discussion as to its chronological position in Giotto’s career. Thus far I have simply accepted the attribution and assumed an early date, although supporting arguments for its autograph sta­tus and early dating in the painter’s career will be argued later on and in the course of the next two chapters.

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