Awkward First Kiss: The Kiss of Judas

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Giotto, The Kiss of Judas, 1303
Awkward First Kiss

Judas and Jesus’ kiss is arguably the most awkward kiss of all time. Giotto’s painting, The Kiss of Judas, depicts Jesus and Judas in the garden of Gethsemane as Judas identifies Jesus by kissing him, alerting the Roman soldiers lying in wait to arrest Jesus. This betrayal is the turning point in Judas and Jesus’ bromance and one of the most important scenes in the Bible. Giotto emphasizes Judas and Jesus’ embrace by giving Jesus a golden halo and Judas a golden cloak. 

He balances the golden yellow at the center of the painting with the blue and red cloaks on each side of the painting. The golden spears and fire held by the Romans break up Giotto’s signature ultramarine blue sky. Giotto’s painting technique combines the Byzantine style of flat figures and affinity for gold with a more naturalistic style that would pave the way for the Pre-Renaissance. Giotto’s use of color, clothing, and ability to show characterization in his figures sets Giotto’s paintings apart from his mentor, Cimabue. His colors come through more vibrantly on his figures due to his shadows and folds in his clothing. Giotto adds depth to his painting with the placement of the figure’s feet at the bottom to show distance to combat the flatness of the figures at the top of the painting at their heads. 

Giotto tells the story in his paintings through his faces. His faces have clear, definitive emotions that clearly show each of their motivations and set each of the figures apart. Giotto’s style comes through most vibrantly with the pure emotion between Judas and Jesus, embraced and staring into each other’s eyes as soldiers come angrily into the scene. Judas’ briss, or “bro-kiss,” is considered one of the worst betrayals of all time, making it onto this list of the most awkward kisses in art history.

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