Florence in the Late Gothic Period (1300s)

In the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, Florence’s population doubled. Bankers and merchants replaced the old noble families as the center of power.

1300s

Beginner's guide

The city-state of Florence in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries was a city on the rise (until the black death).

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Inventing the image of Saint Francis
Inventing the image of Saint Francis

a new image of a new saint in the Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence

Cimabue, Maestà
Cimabue, Maestà

Set against gleaming gold, Mary and Christ sit on an intricately carved throne studded with gems.

Giotto, Arena (Scrovegni) Chapel
Giotto, Arena (Scrovegni) Chapel

Like a comic without words, these frescoes tell the story of Christ and his parents—and give their patron a cameo.

Dante’s <em>Divine Comedy</em> in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance art
Dante’s Divine Comedy in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance art

Dante’s vision of Hell inspired generations of artists—and his words still feed imaginations today.

Florence in the Late Gothic period, an introduction
Florence in the Late Gothic period, an introduction

Boom times in Florence saw a rise in art commissions, and the Italo-Byzantine style yielded to Giotto’s naturalism.

Cimabue, <em>Santa Trinita Madonna and Child Enthroned</em>
Cimabue, Santa Trinita Madonna and Child Enthroned

This huge panel hints at the coming Renaissance, but the figures remain weightless and their features, elongated.

Cimabue and Giotto compared
Cimabue and Giotto compared

Only decades apart—but what a difference. Next to Giotto’s substantial Virgin, Cimabue’s appears flat yet elegant.

Giotto, Arena (Scrovegni) Chapel (part 4 of 4)
Giotto, Arena (Scrovegni) Chapel (part 4 of 4)

Christ sits as Judge, separating the blessed from the damned. In Hell, money lenders—like Scrovegni—appear hanged.

Giotto, Arena (Scrovegni) Chapel (part 3 of 4)
Giotto, Arena (Scrovegni) Chapel (part 3 of 4)

In this powerful scene, Mary cradles the dead Christ. A simple landscape and mourning crowd direct us to her grief.

Giotto, Arena (Scrovegni) Chapel (part 2 of 4)
Giotto, Arena (Scrovegni) Chapel (part 2 of 4)

With their emotion, gestures, mass, and volume, Giotto’s people seem real—and time moves with them.

Giotto, Arena (Scrovegni) Chapel (part 1 of 4)
Giotto, Arena (Scrovegni) Chapel (part 1 of 4)

Painting covers every inch of this chapel, from the spiraling narrative cycle to the star-studded blue sky.

Giotto, <em>The Entombment of Mary</em>
Giotto, The Entombment of Mary

Hooked thumbs, pressing elbows, open mouths—these details lend intimacy and reality to an otherwise formal scene.

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