PICTURING THE PASSION: ‘The Entry into Jerusalem’ by Giotto (1305)

The story of art has been ruled by great artist like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli etc. The ‘father figure’ they sought to their career began his life as a shepherd boy. He used his brush to bring the Bible to life and made art more natural, more real. His name was Giotto. Regarded as the ‘Father of the Renaissance’, Ambrogiotto (Little Ambrose) was born in Tuscany in 1267.

Legend states that while tending sheep, Giotto would sketch on a sharp stone. His nature based drawings were so spectacular that it captured the attention of Cimabue, the then famous, ‘bull headed’ artist. Cimabue carried off the boy to Florence to be his apprentice. However he was not spared of the young man’s banter. When Cimabue was absent, Giotto painted a lifelike fly on the face of a painting which appeared so real that the master, on his return, tried several times to shove it off. This impressed Cimabue who now invested more time and opportunities in his brilliant pupil.

Giotto’s greatest masterpieces are the frescos he painted inside the Arena or Scrovegni Chapel located in Padua, Italy. It was commissioned by Enrico Scrovegni, a wealthy Italian banker in the early 1300’s. It served as restitution for his father’s involvement in unjust usury dealings.

One of the most famous and spectacular paintings in the Chapel is The Entry into Jerusalem.’ Against the backdrop of the brilliant blue sky, Giotto enlivens the procession scene in the foreground. The main protagonist i.e. Jesus Christ is placed at the center of the composition. The disciples (passive group) follow Him while the people of Jerusalem (active group) hail and honour Him.

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