Cimabue (1240-1302) (Cenni di Pepo)

"Cimabue (1240-1302) (Cenni di Pepo)" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Wednesday 27th April 2011

Cenni di Pepo, named Cimabue, Italian painter, was born in 1240 and died in 1302 in Pisa. He was an artist quite known by his contemporaries which could be judged from the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (Purgatorio XI, 94-96). The famous writer Vasari who created "Vite" (Lives) dedicated to the biographies and art critics of Italian artists put the description of Cimabue's life first. Nevertheless the documented information about him and his works is very little. The first document registered his presence in Rome in 1272; in 1301-1302 in Pisa he received the payment for San Giovanni, mosaics on the apse in the Cathedral and for Maesta' in the hospital of Santa Chiara (now lost).

The news about his presence in Rome in 1272 is particularly interesting, as it was a moment of political and religious reform of the Church in which participated some major artistic personalities of the epoch. The main theme in the art of Cimabue was the theme of Crusifiction: Cristo di Arezzo (1265-1268) (photo 1.); Cristo in the church of Santa Croce in Florence (1272) (semi-destroyed after the flood of 1966); Crocifissioni in the church of San Francesco d'Assisi. The participation of the artist in decoration of the church San Francesco d'Assisi was very important: in the transept and the choir of the higher church he frescoed in collaboration with numerous helpers in 1277-1280 a big cycle dedicated to the Apocalypse, Apostles and Maria, plus Crocefissione and four Evangelisti on the ceiling.

During the 2nd period of Assisian frescoes' execution (interrupted for some years starting from 1279 because of the internal problems of the Franciscan order) appeared a problem of a presence next to Cimabue of an artist Duccio from Siena and of a young Giotto, so it is hard to say to who should be attributed with the certainty the frescoes created in this period.

Among the other works of Cimabue are: frescoes in the lower church in Assisi (Madonna con angeli e San Francesco) (photo 2.); image of St Francis in the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli; Maesta' (Bologna, Chiesa dei Servi) (photo 3.); Maesta' in the church of San Francesco in Pisa (now in Louvre); solemn image of San Giovanni in mosaics on the apse of the Cathedral in Pisa (1301).

  1. cimabue cristo
  2. cimabue sfrancesco
  3. cimabue maesta
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