GIOTTO di Bondone
(b. 1267, Vespignano, d. 1337, Firenze)
No. 6 Scenes from the Life of Joachim: 6. Meeting at the Golden Gate1304-06
Fresco, 200 x 185 cm
Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua
In the last fresco of the upper register the composition is concentrated on the encounter between Joachim and Anne: Joachim is accompanied by a shepherd, who is partly cut off in the fresco. On the one hand, Giotto uses this completely new device in painting to create the impression that the succession of pictures, intersected by the framework, would unfold before our eyes in one continuous procession. On the other hand, a figure cut short in such a manner increases the dynamics within the picture field and makes us focus on the action at its centre.
Even the verticals of the architecture and the golden arch of the city gate respectively illustrate and mirror the way the couple lean towards one another. The two meet on a bridge, on the border between the outside world and the security of the city. They embrace with great tenderness and kiss one another. The way in which the volumes of the figures fuse underlines the tenderness of the moment, in which the faces also melt, as it were, into one another.
The story of Mary's parents begins with a painful rejection and concludes with this intense encounter. The sensitive portrayal of their meeting already contains the germ for the start of the next narrative, which commences with the Birth of the Virgin Mary and which leads to the youth of Christ by way of the Bridal Procession of the Virgin.