The Cappella degli Scrovegni was commissioned in 1303 by Enrico Scrovegni in atonement for his father’s usury, which was so vicious that he was denied a Christian burial. Giotto was commissioned to cover the walls with illustrations of the life of Mary, the life of Jesus and the story of the Passion, and the finished fresco cycle is one of the high points in the development of European art – a marvellous demonstration of Giotto’s innovative attention to the inner nature of his subjects. In terms of sheer physical presence and the relationships between the figures and their environment, Giotto’s work takes the first important strides towards realism and humanism.
The Joachim series on the top row of the north wall (facing you as you walk in) is particularly powerful – note the exchange of looks between the two shepherds in the Arrival of Joachim. Beneath the main pictures are shown the Vices and Virtues in human (usually female) form, while on the wall above the door is a Last Judgement – in rather poor condition and thought to be only partly by Giotto. At the bottom is a portrait of Scrovegni presenting the chapel; his tomb is at the far end, behind the altar with its statues by Giovanni Pisano.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Italy features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Video: the 1 minute guide to Italy

Video: the 1 minute guide to Italy

Italy has long been one of Europe's most popular destinations. From the magnificent remnants of ancient Rome to the coolest in contemporary culture, secret beac…

08 Jun 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
Why Turin should be your next foodie break

Why Turin should be your next foodie break

Not so long ago, Turin (Torino) – Italy’s great northern powerhouse – was largely ignored by tourists, unfairly dismissed as little more than a giant Fiat…

26 May 2017 • Edward Aves insert_drive_file Article
6 enticing alternatives to Italy's big sights

6 enticing alternatives to Italy's big sights

You’ve hiked the Cinque Terre, gondola’d down Venice’s Grand Canal and got Renaissance art fatigue in Florence’s Uffizi. So what’s next? Italophile Na…

15 May 2017 • Natasha Foges insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month