GIOTTO di Bondone
(b. 1267, Vespignano, d. 1337, Firenze)

The Epiphany

Tempera on wood, gold ground, 45,1 x 43,8 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Giotto of Florence was the founder of Renaissance painting. This picture, which shows the Adoration of the Magi in the foreground and the Annunciation to the Shepherds in the background, belongs to a series of seven panels depicting the life of Christ. When it was painted, Giotto was at the height of his powers and enjoyed an unparalleled reputation throughout Italy. The clearly organized space, arranged like a stepped stage with the stable viewed from below, and the simplified shapes of the figures are typical of Giotto's innovative naturalism, as is the way in which the oldest king has removed his crown, knelt down, and impetuously lifted the Child from the manger.