Il bacio di Giuda, Cappella degli Scrovegni, Padova (The Kiss of Judas, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua), Veneto, Italy (circa 1303-1305)
The kiss of Judas belongs to the famous Giotto’s fresco cycle, one of the most important masterpieces of Western art of all time and a well known icon.
The cycle depicts the life of Jesus, according to the Christian Gospels. The most iconographic scene shows The Kiss of Judas (aka “The Betrayal of Christ”). Judas, one of the 12 Jesus’ Apostles, would have betrayed him, turning him in to the Temple’s guards, so that he was taken to trial for blasphemy, for having declared himself as Son of God. He was later condemned to be crucifixed by Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of Palestine at that time.
The way in which Giotto depicts the scene is particularly summoning: Judas and Jesus are the center of the fresco. The eye contact between Jesus, represented as calm and conscious of what’s about to happen and Judas (of course depicted as a coward traitor, as his behaviour clearly shows) is so intense, while the participants got so agitated and begin fighting, that it instantly catches the viewer’s attention.
Giotto, The Nativity (no. 17 from the Life of Christ), 1304-06, fresco, 200 x 185 cm, Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua. Source
Unusually for a nativity scene, Mary is shown receiving her newborn child from the arms of a midwife in Giotto’s version. Joseph rests in the foreground of the composition, whilst two shepherds watch from the side.