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The Epiphany by Giotto di Bondone

             1300 AD.
             Found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City.
             The Epiphany is one of several panels*(www.webgallery.com) painted by Giotto di Bondone in 1320 A.D depicting the life of Christ that were commissioned for use on the altar of the Franciscan church of Santa Croce in Florence Italy. This was a time in his life when his career was at its height.
             This painting is 17 ¾ inches tall and 17 ¼ inches wide and uses Tempera paint on wood with a gold ground. Though it is diminutive in size, it delivers a great deal of information. Intended to be used on the altar as a pictorial statement of fact it gives a clear and precise accounting of the information. The average person in the Fourteenth century was not literate therefore, these kinds of events were often shown pictorially. There are different names for this particular painting, the Epiphany, the other The Adoration of the Magi.
             The small-contained space of this painting, with the figures moving freely through out the space, this is similar in style to many frescos painted by Grotto. I consider The Epiphany to be organized in a horizontal manner, as the action takes place on different levels; each a step above the previous, utilizing four planes. On the first plane, we see four angels engaged in two different activities, both hold your attention at the very top of the picture plane. The viewer's attention is then moved to the next level, where two warmly dressed sheperds are standing with their attention focused on the angel imparting the good news. The second plane leads the viewer to the central position of the picture plane, towards the stable where Mary reclines. Her gaze is directed toward Joseph on the very lowest level. Joseph stands with his whole body and arm leaning into the picture. Directing the viewers attention to the middle plane where the first King is lifting the infant Jesus out of the manger.

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