Joachim's dream

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Joachim's dream (Giotto di Bondone)
Joachim's dream
Giotto di Bondone , 1303-1305
~ 185 × ~ 200 cm
Scrovegni Chapel

Joachim's dream is a fresco in the Cappella degli Scrovegni in Padua. It was made by the Italian painter Giotto di Bondone in the years 1303–1307. It belongs to the series of illustrated dreams of revelation in which the future is revealed to the sleeping person.

The fresco (185 × 205 cm) consists of two parts:

  • The left, large picture (about 3/5 of the area) and
  • the right, narrow image (about 2/5 of the area).

Both parts are framed by several strips with leaf and flower decorations.


Saint Joachim sits on the right in front of an almost white mountain landscape that fills the lower half of the picture. He wears a pale pink cloak, rests his head on his right arm, and sleeps. His head is surrounded by a halo. He is sitting in front of a white cell that has an opening towards the viewer.

In the center of the picture is a ravine where three sheep and two goats graze and a dog watches over them. On the left are two shepherds (one behind the other). The one in front is supported by a rod. He wears a pink robe and a matching hat. The rear one is a brownish shepherd's smock with a hood. Both look up to the right at the angel.

The background (sky) is bright blue in color. An angel hovers on the left. He wears a white robe with gold borders. He points with his right hand to Saint Joachim; it seems as if it is flying towards him. The wings are directed upwards. The brown hair is surrounded by a halo.

Right picture

The narrow, rectangular picture consists of three ornaments (white) one above the other. The top and bottom are almost identical: geometric, square with a flower in the center. The ornament in the middle looks like a window with Saint Joachim standing by. From the front you can see his head with hair, a full beard and a halo and his upper body (dressed the same as in the other picture).


The sky is a deep azure color. All other colors are pastel, pale and opaque.


The rocks give the room a sense of depth. The main directions are divided into up and down. The upper half is determined by the angel, the lower half by the people and animals. The gorge in the middle divides the picture into two vertical halves.

Text source

The text source for the picture is the story of Anna and Joachim, the parents of Mary , the mother of Jesus , in the apocryphal Protevangelium of James . There the story of the priest Joachim is told, who lived with his wife Anna in Jerusalem. One day Joachim's sacrifice in the temple was rejected by the high priest , because Joachim and his wife had not yet fathered a child after twenty years of marriage. Then an angel appeared to Joachim in a dream while working in the fields, who prophesied the birth of a child for him.