Stefaneschi polyptych


August 13, 2022

Stefaneschi polyptych - an altar polyptych by the Italian painter Giotto di Bondone, currently in the collection of the Vatican Pinacotheque.


The work, in the form of a monumental triptych, painted on both sides, was commissioned by Cardinal Giacomo Caetani Stefaneschi for the great altar of the old Constantine Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican. Giotto personally prepared the project of the work and personally participated in the execution work at various stages of its implementation, however, absorbed with the multitude of duties, he entrusted the execution of some parts to his students, including Bernardo Daddi. Giotto's authorship can be seen especially in the central panneau made by him with the representation of Christ, smaller elements such as stronger contours and refractions, brighter color effects and features on the faces of the figures, however, bear the traces of the hand of the master's students. The obverse of the polyptych, originally facing the nave and the faithful, shows St. Peter, seated on the throne, surrounded by angels and saints, at whose feet the donor - Cardinal Stefaneschi and Pope Celestine V are kneeling. The figures of Saints Andrew and John the Evangelist as well as James and Paul are placed on the side panels. The reverse of the polyptych in the central quarters shows the enthroned Christ adored by angels, at whose feet Cardinal Stefaneschi is kneeling. The side panels on the reverse show scenes of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul. The whole polyptych is richly decorated with figures of saints, angels and prophets, filling the pilasters, medallions, gables and predella. The whole triptych, made in a form resembling a reliquary, is maintained in a typically Gothic style with some elements of archaization, visible especially in the predominance of vertical elements in the composition.