GIOTTO di Bondone
(b. 1267, Vespignano, d. 1337, Firenze)
Egg tempera on poplar, 46 x 44 cm
National Gallery, London
Scientific examination has established that this little panel is the seventh, and last of a series of scenes from the life of Christ originally painted on one plank and formed a long low altarpiece of exceptional width. Other panels are scattered in museums in the United States and Europe, and comprise, from left to right the Nativity, the Presentation in the Temple, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Entombment and Christ's Descent into Limbo. The panels are united not only through their stories, scale and style, and the pattern of wood grain made visible through X-radiograph, but also in their unusual gilding.
Although the uneven quality of the figures suggests the collaboration of assistants, the two men in the foreground, solidly painted on the ground and psychologically alert despite the decorative symmetry of their poses, are almost certainly by Giotto himself.