Medieval Frescoes By Giotto Threatened By Construction Project

Priceless frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy, may be damaged by a nearby construction project, experts say.

The frescoes were painted by Giotto di Bondone around 1305 and are considered a high point in medieval art. They depict the life of Jesus and the Last Judgement and were painted for the private chapel of a rich banker. The figures’ lifelike style and naturalistic poses anticipated the realism of Renaissance art.

Now the construction of a skyscraper nearby threatens to seriously damage the delicate paintings, according to three scholars who have started a petition to halt the project. They say the building will affect drainage in the area, causing the water level to rise. This would increase humidity and all lead subsidence of the walls, both of which would damage the medieval paintings.

A previous, smaller building proposal was postponed for the same reason but the skyscraper has been approved by the municipality. At the time of this writing the petition already had 1892 signatures.

[Image of “The Kiss of Judas” courtesy Flickr user Carla216]