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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Giotto, <em>The Ognissanti Madonna and Child Enthroned</em>
Giotto, The Ognissanti Madonna and Child Enthroned

This is a Mary like we’ve never seen before—she’s more monumental and sits in a space that makes sense.

Cimabue, <em>Virgin and Child Enthroned, and Prophets (Santa Trinità Maestà)</em>
Cimabue, Virgin and Child Enthroned, and Prophets (Santa Trinità Maestà)

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

The Arena Chapel (and Giotto’s frescos) in virtual reality
The Arena Chapel (and Giotto’s frescos) in virtual reality

Take a tour of the Arena Chapel in virtual reality—it's almost as good as being there in person!

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

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.

Selected Contributors