Exhibition At Florence
HE six-hundredth centenary of the
death of Giotto is being celebrated in Florence by an exhibition at the Uffizi Gallery of over 130 of the artist's works, some of which have been sent from France, Germany and the United States. The exhibition will close at the end of October. The King of Italy attended the inaugural ceremony.
The centenary will also be celebrated at Rome, where a series of lectures will be given at the Inter-University Institute from May 20 to 23, and at Assisi, the home of St. Francis, where events connected with the lives of both the saint and the artist will be revived.
Father of Italian Art
Giotto is generally looked on as the father of modern Italian art; certainly his style shaped the course of Italian painting for the greater part of the fourteenth century.
Was it mere coincidence that release from the arbitrary and pathetically inadequate " primitive " style of art followed so close on the heels of the spiritual breakaway of St. Francis from ecclesiastical con. ventionalism?
Is it not probable that the human qualities of Giotto's art was inspired by the saint's love of nature?
Many critics think so.
Mgr. Renan in his book Francois d'Assise writes: 4' II semble au premier coup d'oeil, que
le reve de Francois d'Assise aurait amener la fin de tout art et de mute noble vie. Chose etrange! ce sordide mendiant (sic) 1w le pere de l'art italien."
Giotto the Painter Of the life and activities of Giotto we know but little but we are fairly certain that his artistic education was influenced by the works of Cimabue.
Compared with Raphael and the masters of the fifteenth century, Giotto lacked variety of expression.. He was unable to abandon Byzantine traditions altogether; for example in frescoes at the Accademia di Belle Anti in Florence the figures of the Virgin and Child are too large in proportion to the others, the face of the Madonna has that cold, einotionless expression characteristic of the " primitives" and the Infant Jesus has the body of a fairly mature child.
Nevertheless, Giotto succeeded in making his pictures " live " to an extent unknown in previous centuries, when the slightest deviation from the rigid conventions laid down by the Church would have been a heresy.
Those who visit the exhibition at Florence may, perhaps, be able to decide in their own minds whether Giotto's stye was inspired by the life and teaching of " II pih Italiano Ira i Santi ed il pii santo Ira gli Italiani " or whether he merely followed the revolutionary lead given by Duedo of Siena, Cimabue of Florence and others in the late thirteenth century.