During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, a transformation occurred in Italy with respect to society, economics, politics, and religion. One of the major factors that led to such a change was the shift from a farming culture to a culture of industry dominated by merchants. This led to an urban economy, the expansion of cities, and the alteration of government to accommodate the growing population. In addition, Christian sects such as the Franciscans and the Dominicans began to form, advocating new religious philosophies involving bringing faith to the masses.
This ambition of reform in the economy and in organized religion brought about an increase in the production of art. The creation of artworks became an esteemed industry, and artists gained more respect in the eyes of Italian citizens. Typically, most of the art that was produced was religious in nature, and was seen as a mechanism for visually representing faith in a more tangible manner. During this dynamic period, artistic styles began to change as well. A transition from medieval, Byzantine art to a more naturalistic, humanistic style occurred in Italy.
This included n increase in drama and emotion in art and a revival of Classical forms and ideals, leading to the designation of the period as the “Renaissance,” meaning rebirth. Two rival schools of painting, Siena and Florence, rose to the forefront of this transformation during the beginnings of the Renaissance. In his Lives of the Artists, Vassar denotes the main proponents of the movements in Siena and Florence to be Disco did Obnoxiousness and Ghetto did Bonded, respectively. Vassar saw Disco, called the “Father of the Senses Renaissance” by many art historians, as an extremely talented artist who deserves much respect and consideration.
He credits Disco with initiating a new period in aesthetics characterized by a combination of the old style with new methods such as modeling with chiaroscuro, a greater degree of naturalism, more vivid colors, and a highly revered method of storytelling. Disco made use of several Classical and Byzantine conventions, such as a shimmering gold background, but infused into that tradition his own new stylistic techniques. Vassar includes among Disco’s many accomplishments his work in the Doom of Siena.
He especially acclaims Disco’s “Coronation of Our Lady,” which was previously located n the altar of the Doom. Ghetto rose to fame as the principle figure of the Florentine tradition, and his technical skill in the field of painting was recognized and praised by his contemporaries. Ghetto also incorporated much humanism into his art, even painting a naturalistic landscape and background in many of his works. In comparison with his writings about Disco, Vicar’s excerpts regarding Ghetto are substantially greater in length and filled with much more admiration, indicating his ties with the city of Florence.
Vassar states that painters owe the same debt to Ghetto as they do to nature, OTOH of which serve as exceptional examples for artistic inspiration. He goes on to say for so many years by the ruins of war, he alone, although born among inept artists, revived through God’s grace what had fallen into an evil state and brought it back to such a form that it could be called good. ” Vassar cites dozens of works by Ghetto, painted in various locations throughout Italy. Among the most famous of these works are the fresco paintings in the churches of Santa Crock in Florence and San Francesco in Chassis, as well as in the Arena Chapel in Pads.
Two paintings, both of which depict a similar religious event, accurately reflect the tales of the Senses and Florentine schools of painting. The first is Disco’s Triptych: the Crucifixion; the Redeemer with Angels; Saint Nicholas; Saint Gregory, painted from 1311 to 1318. The work that corresponds to the Florentine movement, entitled The Crucifixion, was painted by a Master of the Robin Coronation during the asses. Although this work is not attributed to Ghetto himself, it is a valid representation of the Florentine school as the artist followed the tradition begun by Ghetto.
In terms of subject matter, both works are visual depictions of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In each painting, Christ is the central figure, surrounded by two groups of figures. On the left, a group of women that includes the Virgin Mary mourns over the dead body of Christ, while on the right is a group of soldiers and other laments. Both works feature a rocky landscape on which the figures are positioned. Encircling Christ are several angels whose gestures of lamentation echo those of the figures below.
Highlighting the severity of each scene is the blood that pours from Jesus’ wounds. The blood from his feet drips onto human bones that are embedded in the rocky terrain below. The skull serves as a “memento mort,” or a reminder of death, an idea that has been repeated in several other depictions of Chrism’s crucifixion. Because Disco’s work is a triptych, beautifully articulated figures have been added to the wings of the piece and above Christ himself. On the left wing, illustrated as a bishop, is Saint Nicholas, a religious figure known for secret gift-giving and working miracles.
On the right is Saint Gregory (also Pope Gregory l), a monastic pope known as the “Doctor of the Church. ” Above the crucifixion scene is a representation of the risen Christ, flanked by two angels. This could serve as a reminder that eternal life exists after death. On the reverse side of the work are designs meant to resemble marble inlaid with semiprecious stones. It is interesting to note the differences in halos between the two paintings. Disco’s work features halos that are defined by imprinted designs in the gold background. The Virgin Mary lacks a gold halo altogether.
In the other painting, halos that are more distinct crown the figures, although they lack the shining gold luster of those by Disco. Other differences between the two paintings lie in the angels that encircle Christ on the cross. In the work by the Robin Master, there are eight flying angels rather than six, three of which hold out bowls to capture the dripping blood from Chrism’s hands and side. In addition, the figure of Mary is in drastically different positions in the artworks. In Disco’s work, she is supported by her fellow female mourners, while she kneels and grasps the cross in the other painting.
The crucifix itself is arranged differently in the the Master of Robin’s work has a cross-beam formed by the trunk of a tree, much different from the flat vertical plank shown in the scene by Disco. The composition of the two works is extremely similar, in that they are both symmetrical scenes of the crucifixion with two main groups of figures on either side. Because of the dramatic gestures of the characters, a rhythm is created that takes the viewer’s eye around the painting. In each work, this rhythm is accentuated by the dynamic movements of the angels that encircle Christ on the cross.
The groups of figures, the rounded arch overhead, and the angels frame Jesus, placing additional emphasis on the crucifixion. The figures themselves are excellent examples of the shift in artistic styles from Byzantine to early Renaissance. In both works, the figures show signs of modeling on both the faces and the drapery. This is a notable shift from the static, Byzantine forms that were defined primarily by line. The figures are extremely dynamic, pictured in various poses and gesturing in various ways.
This presents a slightly chaotic scene full of emotion in which the figures support one another both physically and emotionally. In addition, both paintings feature characters that are solid and imposing, reflecting the importance of the scene and the new ambition to more accurately represent the human form. The figures differ in motion and size, however, from Disco’s painting to that of the Robin Master. In both works, the female group on the left shows extreme grief and lamentation. In Disco’s work, the group on the right displays chaos, shock, and awe, as many stare up at Jesus.
The Master of the Robin Coronation painted his soldier group to be more peaceful endangerment toward the dead Christ, with most of the figures averting their eyes. This could symbolize the fact that life will continue in the presence of Christ, who promised to bring peace in the future. In terms of the size of the figures, hose by Disco are fairly constant in stature, other than the large saints on the side panels of the triptych. In the other painting, Christ is noticeably larger than all the other figures, highlighting his importance as the Son of God.
In terms of spatial composition, Disco painted his figures receding into space on a slightly elevated rocky landscape. Because he aimed to display the faces of all the characters, the illusion of depth is somewhat inaccurate, and it is unclear where the figures are standing. Although not mathematically precise, the attempt by Disco to show receding space is apparent, however. In the crucifixion scene by the Master of the Robin Coronation, the figures below Christ are on a relatively even plane, avoiding any ambiguity in spatial composition.
The figures, placed firmly on a rocky landscape, are also not mathematically defined, but the scene is clearly arranged. Other than to more clearly separate the figures, the colors in each of the crucifixion scenes are used as symbols for ideas rooted in Christian theology. Gold, a Senses tradition that was used in Disco’s background and the halos of the figures in both works, represents divinity. In Disco’s crucifixion scene, the gold gives the painting a hinging aura of holiness, especially when bathed in light, and shows the heavenly nature of the event.
However, the painting by the Robin Master features a blue the naturalism of the scene, highlighting Chrism’s humanness by placing him in a realistic setting, while still maintaining his divinity. As in most religious scenes, the Virgin Mary is clothed in blue in both works, symbolic of her heavenly purity. In addition, both artists paint Jesus quite pale with bright red blood emerging from his wounds, highlighting his sacrifice and commemorating his death. Red accents run throughout each work, furthering the theme of divine sacrifice.
Disco’s color scheme canine seen as more expressive than representational, in that it aims to present Chrism’s crucifixion as a divine event in an unrealistic gold setting. The other work, however, presents a representational color scheme, placing the scene in a more realistic setting. Also noteworthy are the values of the colors. Those in the work by the Master of Robin are duller and less vivid. This creates a scene that is more peaceful and melancholy than the one created by the vibrant colors of Disco. The lighting in both paintings is constant and does not appear to emanate from a ingle source, decreasing the realism of the works.
All figures and objects are fully bathed in light, with very little reference to shadows. In Disco’s work, the gold background causes a shimmering effect when caught in the light, resulting in the feeling of a heavenly experience when viewed. The other painting does not possess this shining quality, and therefore does not have quite the same divine connotation. The materials of each artwork are vastly different. Disco used tempera paint on wood panel to create his triptych, while the Master of the Robin Coronation painted is work in fresco.
This wall painting was later transferred to canvas for the purpose of displaying it in a museum. Tempera produces much finer and more distinct figures than do frescoes. In addition, Disco’s work features much more vivid colors, including the gold punchbowl in the background. This is apparent in the lack of visible brushstrokes, which produces tight, controlled forms, crisp light, and solid colors. The brushstrokes in the painting by the Master of the Robin Coronation are slightly more visible, creating figures that are duller and less clear, although by no means indistinct.
In addition, large areas of damage are apparent from the original fresco, particularly in the lower right corner. In terms of size, Disco’s work is considerably smaller, as it was used as a private devotional image. The triptych is only two feet high, while the other painting is about eleven feet in height. The monumental scale of the latter work was probably meant to emphasize the importance of the event and have a greater impact on viewers, as it was placed in a public church. Abased on the bias in Vicar’s biographies of the artists and his affiliation with