A year after the exhibition Masterworks from Siena from Gothic to Renaissance, Italian art makes a return to the National Gallery of Slovenia with a momentous bequest, with the painterly achievements of the most recognised representatives of the Middle Ages – the exhibition Giotto, Padua and the Scrovegni Chapel.
The exhibition consists of two parts: the presentation of six original works by Giotto’s contemporaries, and a new model of the Scrovegni Chapel produced to a scale of 1:3, which is a superb example of Giotto’s creative work in Padua.
Giotto di Bondone, who was most probably born in 1267 in Colle di Vespignano near Vicchia di Mugello, began on his artistic path as a student of Cimabue. He soon surpassed the master and his fame reached all the way to the wealthy Padua banker Enrico Scrovegni, who, intending to build a mansion and private chapel, in 1300, bought a plot of land with ruins of an ancient Roman Arena. Giotto was given the task of producing the frescoes for the chapel which was in 1303 dedicated to, and in 1305 also consecrated to, St Mary of Charity. The artist ultimately left Padua in the same year.
The chapel measures 21.5 x 8.5 x 12.8 metres, encompassing 700 m2 of painted surfaces, where one can admire the scenes from the Life of Virgin and Jesus, The Last Judgement as well as the allegorical personifications of the Virtues and Vices, which adorn the marble wall base. At the top of the triumphal arch, among the choirs of angels, God the Father is instructing the Archangel Gabriel to make the Annunciation to Virgin Mary. The vaulted ceiling rises above the paintings illuminating them with more than 800 stars on a blue background – typical for Giotto – characteristically used blue pigment in its production. We are witnesses to a pictorial and interpretive ability which expresses and stirs up strong emotions with its extreme realism, while it at the same time preserves the message of peace to each visitor, which has remained unchanged throughout the centuries.
The original works by five artists are exhibited: the Master of the Scrovegni Chapel Choir, Guariento, Niccolo Semitecolo, Giusto Menabuoi and Altichiero da Zevio. The selected works span the whole of the 14th century, so one can admire the painted works from Padua at one of the peaks of Italian painting.
The exhibition was organised by
Ministrstvo za kulturo Republike Slovenije
Ambasciata d’Italia a Lubiana
Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Slovenia
Comune di Padova
Assessorato ai Musei, Politiche Culturali e Spettacolo
Settore Musei e Biblioteche
Provincia di Padova
Turismo Padova Terme Euganee
Diocesi di Padova
Chiesa degli Eremitani
Basilica del Santo
Veneranda Arca del Santo
Museo Antoniano, Padova
IRA – Padova
The project was realized by
Barbara Jaki, direktorica, Narodna galerija
Davide Banzato, direttore, Musei Civici, Padova
Works of art were lent by
Antoniano Museum, Padova
City Museums, Padova
Eremitani Church, Padova
Diocesan Museum, Padova
Editors of the catalogue
Mateja Breščak, Narodna galerija
Giuseppe Xausa, Italijanski inštitut za kulturo v Sloveniji
1 June–30 September 2007
National Gallery of Slovenia