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Giotto, Great Master of Italian Pre-Renaissance

Giotto. Lamentation. The Mourning of ChristLamentation. The Mourning of Christ

The great master of Italian Proto-Renaissance and original innovator, Giotto started a new era in the Italian and European art of painting. Breaking the Italo-Byzantine tradition of the Medieval painting, Giotto created the image of the world, close to the real one. The revolutionary naturalism of his new style turned the evangelic legends into fascinating stories, which Giotto painted across the cathedral walls of Italy.
Meeting at the Golden Gate. Painting by GiottoScenes from the Life of the Virgin. The Meeting at the Golden Gate, detail, 1303-05

He was an artisan like countless others of the age, though he possessed something his predecessors and contemporaries did not: an inner eye that could see how human figures could be brought to life on a wall. He replaced golden backdrops with the hills, meadows and houses familiar to 14th century Italians. In those earthly settings he placed three-dimensional Christs and Virgins, saints and sinners, painted as ordinary humans invested with natural emotions. His sweetly weary Madonna locks eyes with the observer as she swaddles a baby-size Jesus. time.com

The Epiphany by GiottoThe Epiphany

New Quarterly Magazine - The NY Times, Nov 4th, 1877:
...Little of stature, and ill-favored of countenance, Giotto's exterior ugliness formed a striking contrast to the beauty of his mind, and was so evident that it formed the constant subject of his friends' good-humored jests, and is often alluded to by contemporaries. Benvenuto da Imola tells us that the artist's children were as ugly as himself, and Petratch and Boccaccio both mention Giotto as an instance of the strange fact that the rarest treasures of soul are frequently hidden in misshapen forms. But under this repulsive exterior dwelt the kindliest heart and happiest disposition, and a mind that, with all its many-sided accomplishments, was far too large to admit of the least shade of selfish vanity.

... he was endowed with a large share of practical common sense,..and excellent power of reasoning, along with the keenest sense of humor and most unfailing lightness of heart. No man loved a joke better, or was quicker at repartee, ..and countless are the amusing anecdotes, the mirthful sallies, and witty sayings which dropped from Giotto's lips and are repeated by his contemporaries and friends.
St. Francis Mourned by St. Clare by GiottoSt. Francis Mourned by St. Clare

...Everyone has heard the story of the courtier sent from Rome by the Pope to inquire into the merits of the respective artists; he entered Giotto's shop and asked for a specimen of his drawing, and Giotto, taking up a sheet of paper and dipping a brush in red, set his arm fast against his side making a compass and drew a perfect circle at one stroke. Then he handed the paper to the astonished Roman, saying, in reply to his exclamation and question if that was all, "It is enough, and more than enough." Since then the saying "più tondo che l'O di Giotto" passed into a common proverb in Tuscany, which means Round as the O of Giotto - "perfectly done".

Crucifixion by GiottoCrucifixion (North transept, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi)

According to Vasari, Boccaccio, who was a friend of Giotto, says of him that "there was no uglier man in the city of Florence" and that his children were also plain in appearance. (Sometime in the late 1280's, most likely in 1287, Giotto di Bodoni married a Florentine woman, Ricevuta di Lapo del Pela, they had four daughters and four sons. One of them - Francesco also became a painter). The legend has it that Dante visited Giotto once, and, seeing the artist's children underfoot asked him how a man who painted such beautiful pictures could create such plain children, to which Giotto replied "I made them in the dark."
Scenes from the Life of Christ by GiottoScenes from the Life of Christ

Giotto died in 1337.
Vasari says Giotto was buried in Santa Maria del Fiore, the Cathedral of Florence. Other sources state he was buried in the Church of Santa Reparata.
In the 1970s bones were discovered beneath the paving of Santa Reparata. Forensic examination of the bones in 2000 brought to light some facts that confirm they were probably those of a painter as the range of chemicals, including arsenic and lead, both commonly found in paint, that the bones had absorbed.

The bones belonged to a very short man, of little over four feet tall, who may have suffered from a form of congenital dwarfism. This supports a tradition at the Church of Santa Croce that a dwarf who appears in one of the frescoes is a self portrait of Giotto.
Last Judgment, detail, by GiottoLast Judgment, detail(Cappella Scrovegni, Arena Chapel, Padua), 1306

Forensic reconstruction of the skeleton showed a short man with a very large head, a large hooked nose and one eye more prominent than the other. The bones of the neck indicated that the man spent a lot of time with his head tilted backwards. The front teeth were worn in a way consistent with frequently holding a brush between the teeth. The man was about 70 at the time of death.
The remains were reburied with honour near the grave of Brunelleschi, although some researchers are highly sceptical.

Last Judgment, detail, by GiottoLast Judgment, detail. (Cappella Scrovegni, Arena Chapel, Padua), 1306

Pentecost by GiottoPentecost

St. Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata by GiottoSt. Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata

Scenes from the Life of Christ. Nativity by GiottoScenes from the Life of Christ. Nativity

Scenes from the Life of Joachim. Joachim's Dream, 1305-13, by GiottoScenes from the Life of Joachim. Joachim's Dream, 1305-13

Scenes from the Life of Joachim by GiottoScenes from the Life of Joachim

Scenes from the Life of the Virgin. The Flight into Egypt, 1304-13, by GiottoScenes from the Life of the Virgin. The Flight into Egypt, 1304-13

Scenes from the Life of Christ by GiottoScenes from the Life of Christ

St. Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata by GiottoSt. Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata

The Virgin and Child


  1. I love the Renaissance period! It was very rewarding doing my post on Renaissance Dolls discovering of the great masters of that time.
    Beautiful post! andd beautiful collection of art work.

  2. Bonjour,

    Vous êtes cordialement invité à visiter mon blog.

    Description : Mon Blog(fermaton.over-blog.com), présente le développement mathématique de la conscience humaine.

    La Page No-18, THÉOREME de GIOTTO.



    Clovis Simard

  3. Merci beaucoup pour l'invitation à visiter votre blog, Clovis.


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