Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Giotto di Bondone
Giotto di Bondone (better known as just Giotto, 1267 - January 8, 1337) was an Italian painter and architect. He is generally considered the first in a line of great artists who contributed to and developed the Italian Renaissance.
Giotto was born in poverty in the countryside near Florence, the son of Bondone, a peasant, and was himself a shepherd. Most authors believe that Giotto was directly his real name, and not an abbreviation of Ambrogio (Ambrogiotto) or Angelo (Angelotto).
The legend says (as reported by Giorgio Vasari in his biographies, derived from Ghiberti's Commentari) that at the age of 11, while attending the sheep, he used to draw on the rocks with chalk. Cimabue saw him drawing a sheep, so natural and so perfect that he immediately asked his father if he could bring Giotto with him to let him study art, and Giotto's career would have started in Cimabue's bottega.
His art was extremely innovative, and is commonly considered as a precursor of that evolution which was to lead, shortly after, to the explosion of the Italian Rinascimento. He stands as they key link between the Byzantine art of the late middle ages, and the more realistic and humanistic art which flowered in the Renaissance. The flat, symbolic figures grouped in decorative space gave way to the modeled, individualized figures interacting in perspectival space. He managed to adopt the visual language of the sculptors — by lending his figures volume and weight. Compare his Madonna to that of his teacher Cimabue, and you see why his contemporaries considered Giotto's paintings miracles of naturalism.
Giotto's counterpart in the rival city of Siena, the great Duccio, imbued his delicate compositions with deep emotionalism. But Giotto stands alone as the great initiator of three dimensional space in European painting.
He treated the religious themes that dominated medeival art with a new spirit, rendering them with a clear freshness and an unexpected liveliness, and many critics talk about a "human emotion" as the most peculiar feature of his works.
According to one story, Pope Benedict XII wanted to employ Giotto, and sent an emissary to visit the artist. The messenger asked Giotto for a drawing he could submit to the pope, to prove the artist's worth. Giotto smiled and took a sheet of paper, dipped his brush in red paint, closed his arm to his side, and with one twist of his wrist he drew a perfect circle freehand. Giotto handed this drawing to the messenger, who stared back in disbelief. "Is this the only drawing I'm to have?" asked the messenger. Giotto answered, "It's more than enough. Send it along and you'll see whether it's understood."
Famous works include:
- the Cappella degli Scrovegni in Padua,
- the Basilica of S. Francis in Assisi
- the chapels in Santa Croce, Florence
- the many polyptychs and crucifixes
With evident dedication to the painter, Giotto is also the name of a ESA space mission for the observation of Halley's comet (see Giotto mission), and is also the name for a Linux bootable floppy disk (see Giotto (floppy) ).
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