Learn more about Giotto di Bondone's Lamentation (The Mourning of Christ) fresco which formed part of his work within the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy in the very early 14th century.
Lamentation (The Mourning of Christ) is widely considered to be one of Giotto's true masterpieces, despite being just one section of a much larger project.
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.
The Mourning of Christ is a scene found throughout 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 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. Indeed, these themes also appear as individual items in other examples, often when specifically requested by religious institutions who were commissioning each project themselves.
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 the history of Italian art.
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. Many artists over the centuries have addressed Christ's life and done so in different ways - Murillo, for example, was able to present this icon as if another human, helping followers to build up their faith.
The scene of the Lamentation of Christ is just one artwork to be found within the Scrovegni Chapel. This important building can be found in in Padua, Italy. It is not too far from Venice, which has placed it on the tourist map for many international art fans who are able to fit it in fairly easily as part of a wider tour of the country. The Lamentation of Christ specifically sits on the lower tier of the north wall, but most visitors will have a more general interest in the series of artworks that Giotto produced here.
Just within this section of the wall, for example, you will also find other beautiful artworks such as The Ascent to Calvary, Crucifixion, The Resurrection of Jesus, Ascension and Pentecost. The chapel itself was announced as an official UNESCO World Heritage Site as recently as 2021 and this was predominantly due to the fresco cycle created by Giotto.