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Giotto di Bondone

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Giotto di Bondone was born around 1266 near Florence, Italy.  He was the son a small land farmer.  It is said the Giotto was discovered by Cenno di Pepi, a well known Florentine painter of the time.  The story is told that when Giotto was twelve he was sketching one of his father's sheep on a flat rock.  The passing Pepi, or better known as Cimabue was so impressed by what he saw that he persuaded Giotto's father to let Giotto become his pupil.  Another story about the discovery of Giotto is that when he was an apprentice for a wool merchant in Florence, he visited Cimabue's studio so much that he was finally allowed to study painting.  No matter how Giotto was discovered the achievements he made throughout his lifetime made a gigantic impact on art history.

Giotto di Bondone

Giotto and The Renaissance

It is argued that Giotto was the beginning of the Renaissance art period.  Although Cimabue, who Giotto learned under painted in a linear style, Giotto ventured into creating full figures in a three dimensional fashion. Giotto ventured off on his own a great deal, taking all he was taught and adding his own genius to his work. Giotto focused a great deal on form, mostly human form. In fact the Giotto's fascination with form would be carried on through the Florentine school for years to come. In Giotto's painting he focused a great deal on the following:

  • Using the light and shadow that gave his work the illusion of weight and material existence in space.
  • It is the way Giotto gave his frescoes contour that throws him into the art style of the Middle Ages

Like all artists of the time, Giotto was not just a painter, he was also an architect.  It is Giotto's venture into architecture in 1332 that led to the conception of the "universal man." Giotto's first architectural assignment was to design and superintend the building of the Campanile. The project was large and given to Giotto for the sole reason that he was the best living painter.


Giotto's Reputation

Giotto gained a great reputation as an artist of great stature.  Due to the fact that Giotto never signed his work, it is thought that he possibly did not get credit for all that he did as an artist. Few frescoes in Sta Croce in Florence are attributed to the work of Giotto without debate from the critics. While in Sta Croce, he is credited with painting four chapels dating back to the 1320's. Giotto had an overwhelming affect on several that followed him and became a great inspiration to several artists. However the work of Giotto faded out to most due to the growth of the International Gothic period.

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