GIOTTO di Bondone
(b. 1267, Vespignano, d. 1337, Firenze)
Tempera and gold on fir panel, 468 x 375 cm
The crucifix was first attributed to Giotto by Lorenzo Ghiberti, who in his Commentaries quoted other works of the master in the altars of the church of Ognissanti, like the Virgin of Ognissanti and the Dormitio Virginis. Originally it was probably located on the presbytery, dominating the nave and the faithful, near the Virgin of Ognissanti.
In poor condition, it was kept in a room adjacent to the basilica and attributed to an artist close to Giotto and possessing great pictorial capacities.
The work was restored from 2005 onwards by Opificio delle pietre dura from Florence and was attributed to Giotto himself, for a date which is around 1315. On November 6, 2010, the crucifix was reinstalled inside the left transept, enhanced by proper illumination.
Intended for the procession, it is in conformity with the monumental representations of Christ in the cross of the time, namely: the Christ on the cross is in the suffering position; the body falling; the belly prominent on its perizonium; the head leaning forward touching the shoulder; the prominent ribs; the bloody wounds; the superimposed feet.
The crucifix has small panels with scenes on the ends of the cross: the Virgin Mary on the left clothed in blue, St John on the right, hands clasped, and on top the titulus in red is surmounted by a blessing Christ accompanied by the Book. The background contains patterned gold behind the body of Christ.
The cleaning and retouching of the blackened cross has revealed individual brush strokes and the bright colour of the lapis lazuli used by the artist. This expensive pigment now dominates the background of the work. Infrared photography and X-rays studies unearthed clear proof of the authorship of Giotto.