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Giotto and his works in Padua An Explanatory Notice of the Series of Woodcuts Executed for the Arundel Society After the Frescoes in the Arena Chapel   By: (1819-1900)

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THE COMPLETE WORKS

OF

JOHN RUSKIN

STONES OF VENICE VOLUME III

GIOTTO

LECTURES ON ARCHITECTURE

HARBOURS OF ENGLAND

A JOY FOREVER

NATIONAL LIBRARY ASSOCIATION NEW YORK CHICAGO

THE COMPLETE WORKS

OF

JOHN RUSKIN

VOLUME X

GIOTTO AND HIS WORKS LECTURES ON ARCHITECTURE THE HARBORS OF ENGLAND POLITICAL ECONOMY OF ART (A JOY FOREVER)

GIOTTO

AND HIS WORKS IN PADUA

BEING

AN EXPLANATORY NOTICE OF THE SERIES OF WOODCUTS EXECUTED FOR THE ARUNDEL SOCIETY AFTER THE FRESCOS IN THE ARENA CHAPEL

ADVERTISEMENT.

The following notice of Giotto has not been drawn up with any idea of attempting a history of his life. That history could only be written after a careful search through the libraries of Italy for all documents relating to the years during which he worked. I have no time for such search, or even for the examination of well known and published materials; and have therefore merely collected, from the sources nearest at hand, such information as appeared absolutely necessary to render the series of Plates now published by the Arundel Society intelligible and interesting to those among its Members who have not devoted much time to the examination of mediƦval works. I have prefixed a few remarks on the relation of the art of Giotto to former and subsequent efforts; which I hope may be useful in preventing the general reader from either looking for what the painter never intended to give, or missing the points to which his endeavours were really directed.

J.R.

GIOTTO

AND HIS WORKS IN PADUA.

Towards the close of the thirteenth century, Enrico Scrovegno, a noble Paduan, purchased, in his native city, the remains of the Roman Amphitheatre or Arena from the family of the Delesmanini, to whom those remains had been granted by the Emperor Henry III. of Germany in 1090. For the power of making this purchase, Scrovegno was in all probability indebted to his father, Reginald, who, for his avarice, is placed by Dante in the seventh circle of the Inferno , and regarded apparently as the chief of the usurers there, since he is the only one who addresses Dante.[1] The son, having possessed himself of the Roman ruin, or of the site which it had occupied, built himself a fortified palace upon the ground, and a chapel dedicated to the Annunciate Virgin.

[Footnote 1:

"Noting the visages of some who lay Beneath the pelting of that dolorous fire, One of them all I knew not; but perceived That pendent from his neck each bore a pouch, With colours and with emblems various marked, On which it seemed as if their eye did feed. And when amongst them looking round I came, A yellow purse I saw, with azure wrought, That wore a lion's countenance and port. Then, still my sight pursuing its career, Another I beheld, than blood more red, A goose display of whiter wing than curd. And one who bore a fat and azure swine Pictured on his white scrip, addressed me thus: What dost thou in this deep? Go now and know, Since yet thou livest, that my neighbour here, Vitaliano, on my left shall sit. A Paduan with these Florentines am I. Ofttimes they thunder in mine ears, exclaiming, Oh! haste that noble knight, he who the pouch With the three goats will bring. This said, he writhed The mouth, and lolled the tongue out, like an ox That licks his nostrils."

Canto xvii.

This passage of Cary's Dante is not quite so clear as that translator's work usually is. "One of them all I knew not" is an awkward periphrasis for "I knew none of them." Dante's indignant expression of the effect of avarice in withering away distinctions of character, and the prophecy of Scrovegno, that his neighbor Vitaliano, then living, should soon be with him, to sit on his left hand, is rendered a little obscure by the transposition of the word "here." Cary has also been afraid of the excessive homeliness of Dante's imagery; "whiter wing than curd" being in the original "whiter than butter... Continue reading book >>




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