Whether Giotto is, or not, the author of the Life of St. Francis fresco cycle in the Upper Church of Assisi is the subject of a long-standing, bitter dispute. As long ago as 1791, Fr. Della Valle first called Giotto’s authorship of the Life of St. Francis into question; but five years later, in 1796, Abbot Lanzi declared the Franciscan cycle to be by the hand of the great Florentine painter. At the risk of oversimplifyng, as is perhaps inevitable given the vast bibliography that has since emerged on the subject, one could say that the critical debate began at that time. One group of scholars considers the Life of St. Francis the work of an artist from a Roman milieu and excludes any indebtedness to Giotto (this view occurs primarly in the criticism of the English-speaking world). The other side has insisted that all of the frescoes are unquestionably from Giotto’s own hand. For the most part, critics on both sides have assessed the problem of the frescoes’authotorship on the basis of style. I would like to take up this question through the investigation of the primary evidence. The persuasiveness of my conclusions about Giotto’s presence in Assisi, however, will depend on some specialized technical and historical information that will constitue the first half of my essay. I will begin with an estimation of the length of time it took to complete the campaign of the Upper Church; this estimate reflects an effort that is impatient with delay, expeditious, and efficient. Next I will offer my understanding of the working procedure for a team of painter; in particular this should demonstrate that a master plan and not the narrative sequence of the scenes determined the order of the work. I will then describe two techniques: the use of patroni (drawings used as a kind of template) and the modes of depicting flesh tones; these techniques allow one to distinguish the work of three capomaestri who were responsible for three areas of the Upper Church frescoes. Finally, I would like to offer some conclusions about the Giotto controversy as it relates to the Upper Church.

Giotto and the St. Francis Cycle at Assisi

ZANARDI, BRUNO
2004

Abstract

Whether Giotto is, or not, the author of the Life of St. Francis fresco cycle in the Upper Church of Assisi is the subject of a long-standing, bitter dispute. As long ago as 1791, Fr. Della Valle first called Giotto’s authorship of the Life of St. Francis into question; but five years later, in 1796, Abbot Lanzi declared the Franciscan cycle to be by the hand of the great Florentine painter. At the risk of oversimplifyng, as is perhaps inevitable given the vast bibliography that has since emerged on the subject, one could say that the critical debate began at that time. One group of scholars considers the Life of St. Francis the work of an artist from a Roman milieu and excludes any indebtedness to Giotto (this view occurs primarly in the criticism of the English-speaking world). The other side has insisted that all of the frescoes are unquestionably from Giotto’s own hand. For the most part, critics on both sides have assessed the problem of the frescoes’authotorship on the basis of style. I would like to take up this question through the investigation of the primary evidence. The persuasiveness of my conclusions about Giotto’s presence in Assisi, however, will depend on some specialized technical and historical information that will constitue the first half of my essay. I will begin with an estimation of the length of time it took to complete the campaign of the Upper Church; this estimate reflects an effort that is impatient with delay, expeditious, and efficient. Next I will offer my understanding of the working procedure for a team of painter; in particular this should demonstrate that a master plan and not the narrative sequence of the scenes determined the order of the work. I will then describe two techniques: the use of patroni (drawings used as a kind of template) and the modes of depicting flesh tones; these techniques allow one to distinguish the work of three capomaestri who were responsible for three areas of the Upper Church frescoes. Finally, I would like to offer some conclusions about the Giotto controversy as it relates to the Upper Church.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11576/2300594
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact