The Dream of Joachim

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Giotto Di Bondone, The Dream of Joachim1305
By EMMA SHAPIRO

Joachim and his wife, Anna, had a wealthy and prosperous life, but they bemoaned their childlessness. Joachim fled to the countryside to pray, while Anna grieved his departure and her inability to bear a child. Separately, they each received a message from an angel announcing they would conceive. After having their daughter, Mary, they left her at the Temple at Jerusalem to be raised, as promised. 

In Giotto's The Dream of Joachim, Giotto paints the scene in the same manner as staging a play. The spotlight shines on the lethargic Joachim, sitting under the roof of his hut. Although Giotto's art is among the most well-known of his time period, aspects of his art still lack a mastery in proportion, especially but not limited to, the 2-D roof  above Joachim. Giotto's herd of sheep shows his next perspective faux pas. It is possible that Giotto purposefully levitated the topmost sheep, but also unlikely that he actually believed sheep could both float and stand at diagonals, as the second highest sheep does. Giotto's dexterity may not show through in perspective, but he has a unique ability to stage a scene and evoke emotions and ideas without painting objects. The shepherds enter left stage sensing the angel's dramatized descent towards Joachim, leaning with interest towards the action on center stage. Although Giotto leaves the space mostly empty, the eye draws toward the tension heavy line between Joachim and the angel.

This fresco still decorates the walls of the Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel, along with a large series of other Giotto frescoes of similar hue and composition, today. 

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