They presented the men and women in the solemn garb of the Roma forum. Both artists believe that God, His Divine Son, the Blessed Virgin and all the saints are men and women of the noblest physical and moral type.
The Florence of Giotto's time was a little city with 100,000 inhabitants. The Florentine artist of his time is also a poet, a thinker, a sculptor and an architect aside from being a painter. The painters joined the guild of druggists who were their color makers. When a patron wanted a painting, he went to the painter's shop and ordered it, specifying the subject and the treatment that he wanted. A wealthy Florentine would naturally want to
invest in a fresco. In comparison, the Florence of Leonardo's time was also very prosperous. Florence began the fifteenth century free from foreign domination and relieved from the dangers of Milan after the end of the war of 1402. The Platonic Academy was formed after the Council of Ferrara-Florence in 1439. The Medici family of merchants and bankers rises to power in Florence in the 15th century. Although no member of the family holds an official title until the sixteenth century, the Medicis' enormous wealth and influence grant them virtual rule of Florence. The family dominated the political, commercial, and cultural life of the city. It is under their patronage that Florence becomes a center of humanist learning and the seat of a tremendous flourishing of the arts.
Although both artists engaged in fresco painting, their styles are very distinct from one another. For instance, with regard to its subject the theme, the "Last Supper" may be divided into two distinct movements: the institution of the Sacrament and the "Unus vestrum". Leonardo has chosen the moment at which Christ declares that there is a traitor in the company. He chose to highlight the effect of a speech on twelve persons on twelve different temperaments: a single ray and twelve reflections. The subject has been well analyzed by Goethe. It is clear that in a"seated" drama of which the subject is interior disquiet, surprise, anguish, it suffices to show the persons at half length; busts, face, and hands suffice to manifest the moral emotion; the table with its damask cloth by almost completely concealing the lower limbs offered the ingenious artist a resource which he knew how to use. Leonardo divided his actors into two groups, two on each side of Christ, and he linked these groups in order to project a certain continuity, animated by a single movement. The whole painting is like the successive undulations of a vast wave of emotions. The fatal word uttered by Christ who is seated at the middle of the table produces a tumult which symmetrically repels and agitates the two nearest groups and which lapses as it is communicated to the two groups farther removed. The intimate composition of each group is wonderful. The emotions of stupefaction, sorrow, indignation, denial, vengeance and the variety of expression which the painter has gathered together in this picture shows the depth of the analysis, the veracity of the types and physiognomies, the power and the accumulation of contrasts. Each head is the "monograph" of a human passion, a plate of moral anatomy.
Giotto's method is completely different.