Marriage of the Virgin by Giotto

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Giotto, Marriage of the Virgin, 1305
By BLAIR HUXMAN

Marriage of the Virgin by Giotto is part of a fresco cycle considered to be a masterpiece of Western art. It rests alongside other panels chronologically depicting the life of Christ and the Life of the Virgin. The Scrovengi Chapel In Padua, Italy displays these frescoes from around 1305.

In Marriage of the Virgin Giotto depicts the marriage between the Virgin Mary and Joseph. The priest entrusts Mary's safety to Joseph by the guided touching of their fingertips. We see that they are holy by the gold halos around their heads. Mary holds her belly gently indicating possible pregnancy while onlookers appear humbled by God's presence. Giotto's work shows a clear shift from the two dimensional, rigid Byzantine style that dominated art in the day. Giotto painted the dome behind the ceremony with dimension; it clearly caves inward. He tries to create gentle folds in the fabrics by using shadows and adjusts the color depending on how much light hits the subject. The outlines of breasts and arms can be seen by the gently draping fabric. 

Faces are not flat and forward-facing like in traditional Byzantine artwork. Faces have depth and convey a variety of emotions. In Marriage of the Virgin, Giotto uses new styles and techniques to portray the commencement of the journey of Christ in this beginning section of his larger work,
Life of the Virgin.

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