The Moon in the 14th Century Frescoes in Padova
Padova, already in the 14th century a great cultural center of international reputation, struggled with the problems posed by the Moon with Pietro d’Abano, physician and astronomer. But it was with the great painters of that time, namely Giotto and Giusto de’Menabuoi, that its most intimate connections with the contemporary popular culture and theology were illustrated. Giotto depicts the Moon in the Giudizio Universale of the Scrovegni Chapel (1305). The Moon appears on the upper part of the painting, to the left of Christ the Judge, to crown together with the Sun, His presence. The Moon is a heavenly body similar to those appearing on Roman coins of emperors, to signify the Judge is an immortal creature. The color is pale, witeish, almost veiled. More important, the Moon has a face that by popular belief was that of Cain, condemned to amass ‘mucchi di rovi spinosi’ for the fire of the damned (Dante Alighieri, Divina Commedia, Inferno XX, 126). Giusto de’ Menabuoi on the other hand expounds, in the Crucifixion of the Duomo (1375 ca), a theological interpretation. The day of God’s justice, following the death of the Savior, the Moon will burn and the Sun will pale (Isaiah, 24, 23). And indeed the Moon has a dark reddish colour. Therefore, while in Giotto the Moon is seen as in the popular beliefs, Giusto underlines the theological visions of his times with the words of the prophets.
KeywordsPopular Belief Great Painter International Reputation Dark Reddish Colour Heavenly Body
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