Nov 152007
Giotto, Virtues and Vices: Injustice

Injustice is the only clearly identifiable male figure among the allegories: he wears a distinct facial hair, and sits in a masculine posture. His eyes are covered — the man is blind — a feature that becomes characteristic of all Giotto’s vices to one degree or another: Despair appears dead altogether (her eyes are closed […]

Nov 132007
Giotto, Virtues and Vices: Justice

The visual thrust of the Justice allegory ensues mostly from the various attributes and ornamental additions: they may appear to “steal the show” from the sitting crowned figure — in fact, of course, complementing her and expounding her purpose. This rivalry occurs on some level in other allegories as well, but in this one it […]

Nov 122007
Giotto, Virtues and Vices: Faith

The episcopal garment and the reflective facial expression immediately immerse the viewer into a serious, perhaps somewhat grave context. The facial expression adheres to medieval iconic standards more than any other in the entire group of fourteen allegories, and purposefully so: Giotto amplifies the theme of faith via an association with a long standing pictorial […]

Nov 102007
Giotto, Virtues and Vices: Charity

Wearing a garment identical to that of Hope, Charity also reveals a resembling face: the same model probably served Giotto in painting both virtues. The woman humbly smiles and bends slightly backwards, producing a set of graceful and plastic movements, and a subtle contrapposto. She balances easily standing on a few sacks of grain or […]

Nov 092007
Giotto, Virtues and Vices: Hope

Though the term “plasticity” is more often employed when describing sculpture, it can sometimes infiltrate the visual arts to a persistent effect. Giotto’s monochrome¬† virtues and vices, painted on the walls of Capella degli Scrovegni, Padua, demonstrate what can be defined as “quasi-sculptural” plasticity: it brings the figures to life via subtle yet expressive movement […]