Erling S. Skaug
Giotto and the flood of Florence in 1333.
A study in catastrophism, guild organisation and art technology
It is well known that Giotto, on 12 April 1334, was nominated architect of the cathedral of Florence, and that he made a design for the campanile. But it has never been explained why he was offered that task, and at that particular point of time. Was it just an honorary position for the aged artist, shortly before his death? Or was his actual commission to organise the rebuilding of vital parts of the city after the disastrous flood of 4 November 1333 – the worst catastrophe of its kind until the one in 1966? By this angle of approach, based upon the textual evidence of the nomination, it becomes possible to put together several pieces of a puzzle that makes up an entirely new picture of a moment in the history of Florence. Elements as different as Giotto’s stay at the French court in Naples, the introduction of punched decoration in Florentine painting, the dating of some of his problematic altarpieces, the Florentine painters’ place in the city’s guild structure, and a perhaps surprising glimpse into Giotto’s workshop in its late period are all shown to be causally connected.