Giotto Crucifix in Ognissanti church in Florence
In Florence, there are two crucifixes by Giotto. The first one is in the church of Santa Maria Novella, the second one in the Ognissanti church, where the entrance is free.
Since the end of 1800, many masterpieces have been removed from the majority of the churches in order to be put into museums. It is therefore not so easy to see a work that was done and thought for its place.
This crucifix was made for this very rich church (think that next to it there was the Madonna Enthroned (also by Giotto) now at the Uffizi.
For centuries, the crucifix was attributed to the so-called “Parente di Giotto, his pupil, but now, at the end of the restoration (completed in 2010) thanks to the new techniques, they were able to recognize Giotto’s hand, that is to say his very typical way of working.
Also this work was carried out according to the criteria canons of Florentine painting of the time: the wooden board is made of solid poplar, on it there are different layers: linen cloth, plaster and glue, then there are layers of egg tempera painting and gilding for the decoration effect. Finally something typical of Giotto, the inclusion of decorative glass in the halo of Christ – found as well in the Crucifix of Santa Maria Novella.
Where can we recognize Giotto’s genius and where in this work in this particular?
Giotto shows the human body of Jesus. Through subtle, delicate and velvety brush strokes he describes the man, his suffering: the skin is thin and shows the structure of his chest and of his muscles, look at the weight of the body that is abandoning itself in death. He tells about a human body that is won by pain, ages away from the sacred and idealized figures that were the fashion of that time.
Giotto represents for the first time the truth of suffering and the drama of the moment.
His characters are humanized: Christ has died (note the pallor of the flesh), the Madonna show his face ravaged by pain as well as that of the young St. John.
In Florence, there are other, smaller sites, that contain priceless masterpieces that you can enjoy for free. Sometimes their opening times are a bit odd but they offer such breathtaking beauties that are certainly worth the effort.
Chiesa di Ognissanti,
Firenze, Borgo Ognissanti, 42
Opening times: 7.45-12.00 / 16.45-18.30 (Mon – Sat) ; 7.45-12.00 / 16.45-19.30 (Sun)
During mass it is not possible to visit the Church and masses are normally at 11,00 am and 6 pm