Giotto di Bondone (1267?-1337) by Scholes, Robert

Giotto di Bondone (1267 – 1337) He was born about 1266 in the village of Vespignano, near Florence. His father was a small landed farmer. Giorgio Vasari, one of Giotto’s first biographers, tells how , a well-known Florentine painter, discovered Giotto’s talents. Cimabue supposedly saw the 12-year-old boy sketching one of his father’s sheep on a flat rock and was so impressed with his talent that he persuaded the father to let Giotto become his pupil. Another story is that Giotto, while apprenticed to a wool merchant in Florence, frequented Cimabue’s studio so much that he was finally allowed to study painting. Cimabue Vasari tells the story of how Pope Boniface VIII sent a messenger to Giotto with a request for samples of his work. Giotto dipped his brush in red and with one continuous stroke painted a perfect circle. He then assured the messenger that the worth of this sample would be recognized. When the pope saw it, he “instantly perceived that Giotto surpassed all other painters of his time.” He was the last of the great medieval painters of Tuscany, and the artists of the renaissance admired his work, as did his contemporaries. Though he did not have the renaissance trick of perspective, his individualized figures and dramatic sense of action were exceptional. Dante praised him in a famous passage of The Divine Comedy, where he said he had surpassed his master Cimabue, and in about 1400 wrote “Giotto translated the art of painting from Greek to Latin.” Cennino Cennini

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