Thursday, 1 March 2012

M/M Giotto, Second Edition

Image provided by Abbeville Press books. All rights reserved.

Giotto, Second Edition by Francesca Flores d'Arcais
Vasari famously wrote that Giotto “recovered the true method of painting, which had been lost for many years before him.” Now, in the magnificent second edition of the definitive monograph, GIOTTO (Abbeville Press), the life and work of this momentous artist—traditionally considered to be a founder of the Italian Renaissance—reawakens the visionary power of this innovative master of Tuscany. 

            Producing a series of commissioned works for the church and upper classes in his native Italy, Giotto revolutionized European art by renouncing the rigid, stereotyped fig­ures of the Byzantine and medieval traditions. Instead, he gave his characters natural movement and freedom of expression, dramatically placed within convincing illusionistic scenes. His great fresco cycles, such as the lives of the Virgin and Christ in the Scrovegni (or Arena) Chapel, Padua, are populated with realistic depictions of three-dimensional figures; secondary characters, both comic and tragic, further display the range of the painter’s wit and invention.

In this authoritative survey of Giotto’s life and work, Francesca Flores d’Arcais draws on an impressive range of sources, from 14th-century documents to the most recent art-historical investigations. Her research leads her to important reattri­butions of Giottesque paintings and to new conclusions regarding the execution and dating of both famous and lesser-known works. D’Arcais also discusses the earthquake of September 26, 1997, which damaged the frescoes of the Upper Basilica of San Francisco in Assisi. She explains not only the extent of the damage, but also the art-historical insights that emerged from the subsequent restoration effort.

Featuring more than three hundred illustrations, most in full color and some on double gatefold pages, GIOTTO reproduces all of his most important frescoes in exquisite detail, as well as his moving crucifixes and jewel-like polyptychs. With these splendid images and d’Arcais’s insightful text, this is the definitive monograph on the greatest of the trecento masters.


Francesca Flores d'Arcais, a former director of the Institute for the History of Medieval and Modern Art at the Catholic University of Milan, is a scholar of northern Italian painting.