Italo-Byzantine is a style that is shaped by solemn, stylized frescoes and mosaics (Cunningham 399) while the renaissance classical revival is defined by naturalistic poses, emotions and three dimensional elements. Frescoes and mosaics are commonly used in churches and are inclined to the spiritual, serving as icons most of the time; yet the paintings of the Renaissance period focused more capturing the realistic aspects of the human; both physical and emotional. What was striking about Giotto di Bondone’s Lamentation of Christ was that it was that it depicted a transition from Byzantine to Renaissance.
Mainly, it featured Jesus Christ in his death and is being mourned by his followers and the angels in heaven. If one would pay attention to the details, geometric shapes were used to represent the sky and lines were extensively used (especially in the outline of the people) to present a ‘flat’ image and an illusion of tesserae being used to piece together a mosaic, one of the distinguishing features of Italo-Byzantine art. Also, the use of a biblical subject which was the death and burial of Christ shows the influence of the Italo-Byzantine style.
Yet, Giotto’s use of perspectives with the positioning of the subjects in the painting suggests a subtle mix of Renaissance elements; instead of being ‘flat’ as a mosaic or a fresco yet the position of the bodies and the clothes added character, such as the saint above Mary the Virgin with his arms open wide, the two women whose backs are shown and the angels above, their bodies contorted and painted in a way, and the folds of the garments and the tunics gave the illusion that the painting was three dimensional.
The use of light and shadow to give depth to painting also accomplished the desired three-dimensional effect; in painting the background characters darker as compared to the characters in the foreground, Giotto di Bondone was able to give the impression that the scene was not merely linear but had depth. Also, the proportion of the bodies also suggests that Giotto was including some basic concepts from the Renaissance teaching, such as proportion and harmony and the correct anatomical structure, an trend that he started that was later on followed by Massacio a century later (Sweet 112).
As compared to the Byzantine Mosaic style whose subject matters are emotionless and impersonal in nature, The Lamentation of Christ by Giotto di Bondone gave the characters emotions, thus made them move through their eyes, hands and body positions. Almost all the figures’ eyes are directed towards the body of Christ and the use of the rocks, of Christ’s body and arms as a tool to ultimately lead to his face presents a fluidity and realism that is absent in the classic Italo-Byzantine and more on the Renaissance.
The Lamentation portrays the suffering and hopelessness felt by Christ’s followers upon his death, along with the angels who swooped down from the heavens to cry for him as well whereas most Italo-Byzantine would not go as far as stir up emotions from the viewer of the painting. The painting also depicted Christ as a human, since it was not only his followers but his friends and mother who cried and cradled his lifeless body, their anguish clearly shown as compared to the other people in the background.
Also, it shows the peaceful face of Christ, as if he was sleeping amidst all the suffering around him, a detail that is not usually shown in Italo-Byzantine art. Using the basic concepts of the Renaissance and adding a subtle mix of Italo-Byzantine flavor, Giotto di Bondone’s Lamentation of Christ shows a clear transition of Italo-Byzantine to Renaissance. WORKS CITED: Cunningham, Lawrence S. , and Reich, John J. Culture And Values: A Survey of the Humanities. Thomson Wadsworth, 2005 Sweet, Frederick. “Masterpieces of Italian Painting”. Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago No. 7 (1939): 112Sample Essay of EduBirdie.com