Giotto’s Sky

The Fresco Paintings of the First Floor Salone of the Palazzo della Ragione, Padua, Italy


  • Darrelyn Gunzburg University of Bristol



art history, cosmology, medieval period, cultural astrology, Padua, Pietro d’Abano, constellational imagery


Giotto’s frescos in the Salone of the Palazzo della Ragione, Padua, were painted across three registers. The upper register contains celestial astronomical imagery that few scholars have been able fully to understand. Using two sections of this upper register as case studies, I reconstructed the skies over Padua in the medieval period using astronomical and astrological software, together with the knowledge of poetic astronomy and naked eye astronomy. This approach showed that, rather than being simple decorations, these images are instead reflective of the constellations that dictated the seasons and the cycle of the year as seen over Padua c. 1309. Furthermore, they reveal a night sky that was populated with a constellational iconography that, I argue, was part of an ensouled cosmology.

Author Biography

Darrelyn Gunzburg, University of Bristol

Dept. History of Art Co-teacher


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How to Cite

Gunzburg, D. (2014). Giotto’s Sky: The Fresco Paintings of the First Floor Salone of the Palazzo della Ragione, Padua, Italy. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 7(4), 407–433.