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Giotto's Stefaneschi Triptych was produced in circa 1330 and many believe that the artist received assistance for this artwork from members of his studio.
Cardinal Giacomo Gaetani Stefaneschi would commission this project, intended as an altarpiece for to be displayed in the Old St Peter's Basilica in Rome. It can now be found at the Pinacoteca, Vatican. This particular triptych was accompanied by significant documentation which has enabled us to date it more accurately than most of his others paintings. In a similar format to Giotto's Last Judgement, Christ takes centre stage and is supporting by angels who surround him as he sits upon a throne. The gold tones which persist throughout this collection of panelled paintings helps to really lift the overall piece and leave a strong impact on those viewing it for the first time.
The two frescoes that sit either side of Christ Enthroned are the equally powerful scenes of the Crucifixion of St Peter and the Beheading of St Paul. The clear sky for each is depicted using gold paint rather than the standard shades of blue that we typically see today. This gives a dreamlike effect that separates these scenes from our own normality. On the reverse side of the piece you will again find three portraits, namely St James and St Paul, St Peter Enthroned, St Andrew and St John the Evangelist. Giotto used tempera to put together these paintings, typical of all Italian painters during this period. It was only at a later date that influence from Flemish painters would begin to tempt Italian artists towards using oils instead.
Triptychs were relatively common during the Renaissance, but far less so now. Some of the finest paintings in art history have been produced using this format, such as Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights. The separation into three allowed artists to tackle clearly contrasting themes and present them together as a series.