Giotto's applications of embodied perception: Lateral and vertical dimensions of space

R. E. Lubow*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Giotto's Arena Chapel frescoes, dating from the early fourteenth century, provide salient illustrations of two types of embodied perceptions. One is universal, a consequence of biology and the physical laws of nature, linked to the vertical dimension of space, and impacting on affect and moral judgement. The other is culturally determined, acquired from the direction of reading script and affecting perceptions of directions of movement, time and causality. Giotto's intuitive use of embodiments, the result of a newly evolving realism in painting, may have prompted late mediaeval chapel-visitors to empathize with the storied biblical characters, so that figures that were once only the object of religious veneration and awe were now made into living beings with a shared humanity, resulting in an awakening of a personal agency that fueled the Renaissance and Modernism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)642-657
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2 Nov 2015


  • Embodiment
  • Giotto
  • Laterality
  • Personal agency
  • Verticality


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