Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Expulsion of the Money-changers from the Temple

Title: Expulsion of the Money-changers from the Temple
Artist: Giotto di Bondone

Medium: Fresco

Size: 200 x 185 cm

Date: 1304-06

Location: Scrovegni Chapel, Padua.

As recorded in all of the Gospels, during Jesus’ ministry he traveled to Jerusalem. Once there he went to the Temple where he chased out those people who were treating it like a market, overturning the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them,” 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'" (Matthew 21:13) The buying and selling involved items such as wine, oil, salt, birds and animals that pilgrims to the Temple bought for sacrifices. Because the Temple was a holy place, Roman and Greek money could not be used for these sales. The money-changers were there to exchange the pilgrims' money for Jewish coins.

This painting is one in the fresco cycle by Giotto that depicts the life of the Virgin and the life of Christ, and is regarded as one of the supreme masterpieces of the Early Renaissance. Unfortunately, the left-hand portion of it has been considerably damaged by damp and is scarcely intelligible. The attitude of Christ is energetic, and there is a fine contrast in feeling between the two money-changers on the right hand of the picture, one of whom shrinks away, while the other seems inclined to stand his ground. The precipitation with which the goat is leaping out of the little pen is one of those little semirburlesque touches of animal life which Giotto introduces whenever he gets a chance.

Giotto di Bondone (c. 1267 – January 8, 1337), better known simply as Giotto, was an Italian painter and architect from Florence. He is generally considered the first in a line of great artists who contributed to the Italian Renaissance. His significance to the can be gauged from the fact that key figures of the High Renaissance, such as Raphael and Michelangelo were still learning from him and partly founding their style on his example. Giotto's masterwork is the painted decoration of the interior of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. This chapel, the building and decoration were commissioned by Enrico degli Scrovegni to atone for the sins of his father.

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