Frescoes in the Bardi Chapel (1325-28)
by GIOTTO

Giotto also received the commission for the second surviving chapel in the Franciscan church of Santa Croce in Florence from a banker. The donor Ridolfo de' Bardi and his brother jointly inherited their father's banking house and commercial interests. This involved maintaining a good relationship with the powers who determined the politics of the day - with the pope, with the Neapolitan ruling house of Anjou, and with the Guelph party. He was able to go on cultivating this highly effective mixture of faith, politics and money for the next three decades until his house went bankrupt in the 1340s.

The Bardi family chapel is situated to the right of the choir, which means that it is the first chapel of the southern transept, and dedicated to St Francis. As was the case with the neighboring Peruzzi Chapel, these frescoes were also painted over in the 18th century, rediscovered in the 19th century, and reworked. During their restoration in the middle of the twentieth century, all reworked areas were removed and the ruined parts sealed with plaster. For this reason, some of the frescoes have empty spaces, although the actual painting is considerably better preserved here than in the Peruzzi Chapel, since Giotto went back to working with fresh plaster here.

As in the Peruzzi chapel, three frescoes framed by ornamental bands decorate each wall. But unlike in the former, these are dedicated to just the one saint, St. Francis. The Renunciation of Worldly Goods and the Confirmation of the Rule are situated in the lunettes. In the middle register the Apparition at Arles and the Trial by Fire before the Sultan are depicted. The Death of St. Francis and Inspection of the Stigmata and the Apparition at Aries can be seen at eye level. Above the entrance to the chapel the Stigmatisation is portrayed, as it were, as a summation of the life of the saint. The seraphim from whom Francis receives the stigmata here appears - unlike at Assisi or in the panel in the Musée du Louvre - as the crucified Christ.

While the St Francis in the paintings in the Upper Church at Assisi wears a beard, Giotto depicts him without one here, as in the vault frescoes in the Lower Church. This manifestation of the saint, favoured by the order since 1316, must have been particularly agreeable to a banker, since it no longer expressed the original significance of personal poverty.

Unlike the Peruzzi Chapel, the construction of the architecture portrayed in the frescoes is here based on a viewpoint within the chapel. The perspective of the architectural structures in the paintings changes with great logical consistency - the higher the register, the greater the foreshortening from below. This only increases the impression of fluidity between real and painted space.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 33 minutes):
Michael Haydn: St Francis Mass


Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 1. Stigmatisation of St Francis
1325-28
Fresco, 390 x 370 cm
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

957*925
True Color
193 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis (north wall)
1325-28
Fresco
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

840*1400
True Color
195 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis (north wall)
1325-28
Fresco
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1123*1400
True Color
254 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 2. Renunciation of Wordly Goods
1325-28
Fresco, 280 x 450 cm
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1150*770
True Color
188 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 2. Renunciation of Wordly Goods (detail)
1325-28
Fresco
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1000*1207
True Color
221 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 2. Renunciation of Wordly Goods (detail)
1325-28
Fresco
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

850*1002
True Color
170 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 3. Apparition at Arles
1325-28
Fresco, 280 x 450 cm
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1117*770
True Color
163 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 3. Apparition at Arles (detail)
1325-28
Fresco, width of detail 25 cm
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

656*798
True Color
108 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 4. Death and Ascension of St Francis
1325-28
Fresco, 280 x 450 cm
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1167*770
True Color
153 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 4. Death and Ascension of St Francis (detail)
1325-28
Fresco
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1191*776
True Color
175 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 4. Death and Ascension of St Francis (detail)
1325-28
Fresco, width of detail 59 cm
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1479*1000
True Color
193 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 4. Death and Ascension of St Francis (detail)
1325-28
Fresco, width of detail 34 cm
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

655*792
True Color
102 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 4. Death and Ascension of St Francis (detail)
1325-28
Fresco, width of detail 59 cm
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

758*922
True Color
168 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis (south wall)
1325-28
Fresco
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

872*1400
True Color
174 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis (south wall)
1325-28
Fresco
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1125*1400
True Color
238 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 5. Confirmation of the Rule
1325-28
Fresco, 280 x 450 cm
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1157*770
True Color
154 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 5. Confirmation of the Rule (detail)
1325-28
Fresco, width of detail 29 cm
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

622*768
True Color
116 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 6. St Francis before the Sultan (Trial by Fire)
1325-28
Fresco, 280 x 450 cm
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1323*770
True Color
172 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 6. St Francis before the Sultan (detail)
1325-28
Fresco
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1162*770
True Color
171 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 6. St Francis before the Sultan (detail)
1325-28
Fresco
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1000*1304
True Color
190 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 7. Vision of the Ascension of St Francis
1325-28
Fresco, 280 x 450 cm
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1332*770
True Color
156 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 7. Vision of the Ascension of St Francis (detail)
1325-28
Fresco, width of detail 35 cm
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1000*1062
True Color
157 Kb



Scenes from the Life of St Francis: 7. Vision of the Ascension of St Francis (detail)
1325-28
Fresco
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

1162*770
True Color
147 Kb



Saint Clare (detail)
1325
Fresco
Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

622*797
True Color
88 Kb




Summary of paintings by Giotto
Frescoes in San Francesco, Assisi
Upper Church: Legend of St Francis | New Testament scenes | Lower Church
Frescoes in Arena Chapel, Padua
Life of Joachim | Life of Virgin | Life of Christ | Angels | Heads
Last Judgment | Heads
Vault frescoes | Virtues and Vices | Decorative elements
Frescoes in Santa Croce, Florence
Frescoes in Peruzzi Chapel | Frescoes in Bardi Chapel
Panel paintings
Crucifix | Maestà and others | Polyptych panels | Stefaneschi Altarpiece | Baroncelli Polyptych
Miscellaneous works
Navicella mosaic | Campanile of the Florence Cathedral