There is a larger image of the original painting at the bottom of this page, so that you can enjoy more of this beautiful artwork. Lamentation and Giotto's other work in the interior of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy display clear Renaissance styles at a time when the art scene in Europe was still dominated by the Byzantine. Any artist who contributes to developments in art history will always retain a particularly important role in the story of past movements and genres. Giotto, Masaccio and Cimabue were integral in pushing new ideas within Italian art and this, in turn, developed across the rest of Europe.
The Mourning of Christ is a scene found on countless occassions in Renaissance art, from a time when religion was particularly involved in all sections of society. The bible tells followers of how Christ was mourned after being taken from the cross. This is an emotional scene where the son of god is discovered, perhaps one of the most powerful scenes to be in all religious scripture. Many notable artists have devoted entire series of work to the life of Christ, creating a biography of his life through individual chapters of the Bible, delivered individually across a number of artworks, be it frescoes, carved blocks or drawings.
Powerful scenes would tempt artists from the Renaissance with their inspiring tales from religious teachings. Another significant factor was that the best paid commissions for artists at this time would often come from religious institutions too. It was virtually impossible to build a career at this time without covering such themes. Indeed, just to focus on Lamentation, this topic was covered by other famous artists such as Albrecht Durer, Peter Paul Rubens, Raphael, Rembrandt and Sandro Botticelli. Most of the influence from Renaissance art would come from Italy but there was also considerable achievements from artists elsewhere in the continent, such as Germany, the Netherlands, France and Spain. It is almost as if each country has taken its turn over the past few centuries to contribute influential movements which, in turn, have developed artistic ideas and styles.
Lamentation (The Mourning of Christ) was completed over the years of 1304-06 and is sized at 200 cm x 185 cm. Its format would have been restricted by the overall project within the Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel) in Padua but Giotto would have had plenty of time to plan accordingly. The overall display is quite extraordinary, one of the finest series of frescoes in Italian Renaissance history. This scene features a collection of sorrow and grief, displayed powerfully in the faces of those who mourn the loss of Christ. The bottom half of the canvas if filled with these emotional figures, positioned in front of a small rock face which helps to frame the composition and also add some aesthetic interest and an element of perspective. Behind that appears to be a faint outline of a larger series of mountains. Giotto chose not to add too much detail here in order to avoid distracting the eye from the key elements of the scene.
In order to underline the significance of this death, Giotto then appends many more individuals on the left hand side, but with reduced detail in order to add as many as possible. At the top of the scene we find angels displaying similar expressions of grief and sorrow. This helps to connect Christ to both humanity and also the Gods above. There is also a tree to the right hand side of the scene which looks dishevelled, representing the loss of Christ's life and also the overall theme of sadness and desperation. The woman holding his body is believed to be his mother, perhaps the other figures in this scene are actually just an extension of her own pain and sorrow.