Giotto di Bondone's huge depiction of the Last Judgement can be found in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua and represents one of his finest frescos.
This colossal work (his largest contribution to the Scrovegni Chapel) dominates from its position in the west of the church, standing at an imposing 1000cm tall by 840cm wide. The size allowed Giotto to include huge numbers of supporting figures across the scene surrounding Christ who takes the focus in the centre of the composition. There are twelve apostles who stretch across the centre of the painting, with six either side of Christ. The remaining figures are then symbolically divided into sections above and below, left and right, depending on the whichever judgement has been delivered. Further detail provides greater contrast on heaven and hell. Additionally, it is the archangels of Michael and Raphael who can be seen holding the cross just below Christ himself.
Such division of punishment and reward are common place throughout the Renaissance and offered religious followers a visual reminder of the importance of being a good citizen and a committed believer. Michelangelo's Last Judgement which sits in the Sistine Chapel remains the most famous depiction of this powerful theme. The related work of Sandro Botticelli who provided illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy are also of supreme technical ability, just in a different medium. Giotto di Bondone sits alongside other famous names from around this time, such as Masaccio, Giovanni Bellini, Andrea Mantegna, Annibale Carracci and Gian Lorenzo Bernini in helping to shape the future styles of the Renaissance and moving art onwards from the medieval methods of earlier.
The Last Judgement (Giudizio Universale) is a theme that combines two worlds, the now and the what comes later. This provides a challenge to any artist tasked with merging these in a believable way that also remains faithful to the original Christian teachings. It is easy, however, to see why so many artists chose to take this item as inspiration for their own work, with it containing so much energy and passion. In many cases the artists would have been instructed as to a suitable theme by the donor, with little input themselves. Religious institutions held much of the wealth during the time of Giotto and so, inevitably, themes such as these would dominate the oeuvre of most major artists. They would re-visit many of these topics several times over, re-inventing them each time and tailoring them to the specifics of each requirement.