Comparative Analysis of the Paintings of Giotto and Michelangelo This essay shall compare the works of two prominent Italian artists whose works are immortalized in the Sistine Chapel and the Arena Chapel. Specifically, Giotto di Bondone’s, “Last Judgment” and Michelangelo Buonarroti’s “The Fall and Expulsion from Garden of Eden” have been selected to be analyzed…
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While both paintings are inspired by biblical readings, Michelangelo’s painting is from a story in the beginning of biblical times while Giotto’s painting is a vision of the end. Both paintings are divided in the middle, depicting opposites of events on either side. In the Fall and Expulsion from Garden of Eden, the image is divided by the controversial Tree of Knowledge, with the left side showing Adam and Eve enjoying the bliss of paradise while the right side showing them being ousted by an angel from the garden to fend for themselves. In Giotto’s Last Judgment, the image is likewise divided on the lower half with a cross dividing the picture into visions of those called to heaven and those thrown to hell. Both paintings show visions of the enjoyment of God’s grace as well as the consequences of sin. Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) was placed under the tutelage of a number of gifted artists ever since he was a young boy. Critics believe his work was influenced by the masters, Leonardo, Giotto and Poliziano. They were impressed by the boy’s extreme sensitivity, and his combination of energy and talent. Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by the Pope himself for his own personal worship space (awakentoprayer.org). The Fall and Expulsion from Garden of Eden is just one of the panels devoted to Creation. The flow of the story of the image is from left to right. On the left side, a relaxed couple is shown enjoying the fruit from the forbidden tree while the background denotes lush and abundance. The serpent entwines itself to the tree while tempting Adam and Eve. It symbolically divides the image denoting its representation of man’s separation from God’s graces as the couple is ousted from the garden. The right side shows total desolation and the look of frustration and regret in the couple’s faces while an angel drives them away (Web Gallery of Art). Giotto di Bondone (1266-1337) is another renowned Italian artist whose works have been influenced by Pietro Cavallini, Nicola and Giovanni Pisano. In 1304, he began a series of 38 frescoes in the Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel in Padua which mostly depict biblical images His works builds up a rhythm from solemn and slow-moving to supremely forceful drama but are filled with compassion (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia). He is also adept in the use of space, adding appropriate figures in the background culled from his own interpretation of the image making them powerful visions. In The Last Judgment, Giotto paints the top part to show heaven with Jesus in the middle and the apostles at both sides while the lower part shows the chosen that are blessed to enter the gates of heaven on the left side and the doomed that are sent to hell on the right side. Archangels Michael and Raphael are in the middle holding the cross (artbible.info). Ladis suggests that Giotto’s wit and humor is evident in his work especially in his treatment of hell in the painting. Those subjected to eternal damnation are depicted trying their best to escape their judgment but none can hide, as everyone is owned by Satan (586). Both artists are expert in capturing the emotions of the subjects and in turn, evoking the emotions of their viewers. Michelangelo has been known to be a master in the human form, and this shows
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