Giotto (1267-1337)

"Giotto (1267-1337)" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Wednesday 27th April 2011

Giotto, Italian painter and architect, was born in Vespignano, Vicchio di Mugello in 1267 and died in Florence 1337. He was a pupil in studio of Cimabue (1280-circa1290). Equally important for the young artist was contact with the trends of classicists of the contemporary Roman painting, which took place in Rome or in Assisi, where were recognized his first works: the frescoes with the Storie dell'Antico Testamento and Nuovo Testamento, which could be found in the high part of the nave in the higher church of San Francesco ad Assisi; here in the 3rd span to him are attributed two Storie di Isacco, where the space, figures and action are represented in a dramatic light. In other Storie, and especially in Pianto sul Cristo morto (4th span), the composition structure is more complex, but always keeps dramatic character.

Some time later, Giotto renewed the theme of crucifixion in a big Croce (pictured right) in the church Santa Maria Novella in Florence.
giotto croce
Again in San Francesco ad Assisi, in the lower part of the nave and on the other side of the facade, Giotto frescoed, with the help of numerous collaborators, the series Leggenda di San Francesco, which was initiated in circa1296, was interrupted at the 25th episode in 1300, because the artist was called by pope Bonifacio VIII to Rome, in occasion of Jubilee.

From the loggia fresco in Palazzo del Laterano Bonifacio VIII che indice il giubileo (now in basilica St John Lateran), remained only few pieces, which demonstrate the hand of Giotto and collaborators. Also from the mosaics Navicella (subsequently remade) on the facade of St Peter's in Vatican, remained only two fragments.

Some of the works, such as Polittico di Badia (Florence, Uffizi); Madonna in trono (church San Giorgio alla Costa) and very few fragments of frescoes found in the church in Badia, prove intensive working period of Giotto in Florence in the beginning of the 14th century.

In 1300-1303 Giotto lived in Rimini, where created Crocifisso in Tempio Malatestiano, the work influenced by the Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna.

In 1304-1306 was frescoed Cappella di Enrico Scrovegni all'Arena in the city of Padua with the cycle Storie di Cisto: Strage degli innocenti, Nozze di Cana, Resurrezione di Lazzaro, Cattura, Passione, Crocifissione, Compianto (see on the right), Noli me tangere, Prologo in cielo, Annunciazione, Visitazione, Tradimento di Giuda, Virtu', Vizi, Giudizio universale (see below).

Some time later after Paduan experience, Giotto had to depict Maesta' (see below on the right) in the church Ognissanti in Florence (Florence, Uffizi). In the second decade of the 14th century were executed the frescoes in Cappella della Maddalena in the lower church of S.Francesco ad Assisi, designed by Giotto, but realized in greater part by his pupils, which took place also with the execution of Virtu' francescane in the same church and with Polittico Stefaneschi (Pin.Vaticana). After another short period of work in Padua probably in 1317: Crocifisso (Cappella dell'Arena), astrologic frescoes (Palazzo Comunale, now disappeared), Giotto began to fresco the Cappella Peruzzi in the church Santa Croce in Florence with the series Storie dei due san Giovanni.

In the same period were created polittico di Raleigh (North Carolina Mus.of Art), Transito della Vergine in Florentine church Ognissanti (now in Berlin), little Storie di Cristo (divided between museums of New York, Boston, London, Monaco and Settignano (Coll.Berenson)).

In 1325-1328 were executed the frescoes of Cappella Bardi with the series of Storie di San Francesco (Florence, church Santa Croce). To the same period is attributed incomplete polittico (divided between Washington (nat.Gall.), Chaalis (Mus.Jacquemart-Andre) and Florence (Mus.Horne)). But probably executed by his pupils are two Crocifissioni (Strasburg and Berlin). From 1329 till 1333 Giotto and numerous pupils continued his activity in Naples, but there was no anything found with the hand of the artist identified. In this years or right after them, he designed and partly executed the polittico in the church Santa Maria degli Angeli (Bolonia, Pinacoteca), and directed the work of Polittico Baroncelli (Florence, Santa Croce).

In 1334 Giotto designed and founded the bell-tower of Duomo in Florence, later continued by others. Around 1335 the artist was in Milan, and in palace of Azzone Visconti executed some works, disappeared now.

As well as Dante renewed the poesy, Giotto made the process of maturing of the language of painting go quicker. This historical role was already recognized by his contemporaries, by the same Dante and Cennini. Giotto represented the sum of the figurative culture of the Middle Ages. His works remained as a model and source of inspiration for the artists of the Renaissance.
giotto maesta giotto giudizio giotto compianto giotto dono

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