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The Badia Polyptych, which dates from circa 1300, is a tempera on panel piece located at the Uffizi Gallery of Florence. It was thought lost for centuries, before being recovered in the nineteenth century, at which point a whole new era of art lovers were able to appreciate it.
As a polyptych, it depicts five figures: in the centre is the Virgin Mary with child; the other figures are St. Nicholas of Bari, St. John the Evangelist, St. Peter and St. Benedict. Together, the five figures represent the medieval style of art at its finest. The stylised approach to perspective and pose is evident; yet at the same time, the detail and sympathy that Giotto has brought to the faces of the figures is striking in its sheer vitality. To an observer, it is almost as though the art has come alive: the overall feeling is that five individuals from the middle ages are standing before us, gazing out of their stylised trappings. Each figure us surrounded by ornate gold decorations, as befits a piece of art created to be presented in a church, conveying the full majesty of the religious institutions of the era.
Giotto was an Italian artist of the late medieval period; although his work has in some ways been overshadowed by the majesty of the Renaissance that came shortly after his time, those with an eye for art have come to appreciate his creations as being amongst the last creative triumphs of the Middle Ages, an era that was soon to be swept away by the tide of change. To look at the paintings of Giotto is to step into the culture and the mindset of a bygone age.
To see the polyptych in person, you will need to travel to the Uffizi Gallery of Florence; but the next best thing is to purchase a print with a reproduction. By hanging a print of the Badia Polyptych on your wall, you will be bringing a touch of a bygone age to your home. The five medieval faces will gaze out at you and anyone who visits your house, bringing with them centuries-old wisdom. A print is certain to become a major conversation piece within your household, as you and your family will take inspiration from its beauty.
Even those unfamiliar with Giotto and his work will be enraptured: the Badia Polyptych is one of those rare pieces that captures its time and era so perfectly that anyone who so much as looks upon it will instantly be transported back in time. How could see it and not imagine themselves standing in a medieval church, hearing the ecclesiastical singing, and even smelling the candles that burn around the darkened Gothic architecture? This is the atmosphere that you can bring to your home with a print of the Badia Polyptych by Giotto.