, Volume 85-86, Issue 0, pp 45-50

The Moon in the 14th Century Frescoes in Padova

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Abstract

Padova, already in the 14th century a great culturalcenter of international reputation, struggled withthe problems posed by the Moon with Pietro d'Abano,physician and astronomer. But it was with thegreat painters of that time, namely Giotto andGiusto de'Menabuoi, that its most intimateconnections with the contemporary popular cultureand theology were illustrated. Giotto depicts the Moonin the Giudizio Universale of the ScrovegniChapel (1305). The Moon appears on the upper partof the painting, to the left of Christ the Judge,to crown together with the Sun, His presence. TheMoon is a heavenly body similar to those appearingon Roman coins of emperors, to signify the Judgeis an immortal creature. The color is pale,witeish, almost veiled. More important, the Moonhas a face that by popular belief was that ofCain, 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 handexpounds, in the Crucifixion of the Duomo(1375 ca), a theological interpretation.The day of God's justice, following thedeath of the Savior, the Moon willburn and the Sun will pale (Isaiah, 24, 23). And indeedthe Moon has a dark reddish colour.Therefore, while in Giotto the Moon is seenas in the popular beliefs, Giusto underlines thetheological visions of his times with thewords of the prophets.