Giotto, The Arena Chapel Frescos: The Ascension of Christ

Arena Chapel, Padua, Italy

As he did in the Assisi Ascension image, Giotto shows Christ in profile, reaching up toward Heaven, his hands piercing through the frame of the image. This is a vestige of the old iconography that had him striding upward as if climbing a mountain.

Giotto also adapts the mandorla from another iconographic tradition, but not the motif of angels surrounding or helping to lift it. Instead, the angels acclaim him from a bit of a distance.

Below, the Apostles kneel with the Virgin Mary as the two angels of Acts 1 ask them, "why stand you looking up to Heaven?" There are eleven Apostles, because it is not until later in Acts 1 that they choose a twelfth to fill the place left by Judas.

This panel is the fifth (reading from the left) in the bottom register of the north wall of the chapel, between the Noli Me Tangere on the left and Pentecost (last in the series) on the right.

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Read more about images of the Ascension.

Photographed at the chapel by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.