Giotto Di Bondone








Arena Chapel

Padua, Italy

Giotto Life and Greatest Works
Giotto was born in a village near Florence called Vespignano. Giotto grew up in a poverty stricken home; his dad was a shepherd. Giotto was married and had six children. Unlike his childhood Giotto was a wealthy man because he saved his money which was not a common practice of artists. It seems there are a few stories on Giotto’s beginning as an artist, but the most common one is; while watching his father’s sheep he began sketching them on a rock with a sharp stone. According to The World Book Encyclopedia an Italian painter named Giovanni Cimabue was passing by, saw the sketching and was impressed with the young mans work. At that time he talked to Giotto’s father and was granted permission for Giotto to become his apprentice. According to the information from A Tribute to Giotto di Bondone in the web gallery of art there is another story of Giotto was an apprentice in Florence for a wool merchant and often visited Cimabue’s studio. After consistently stopping by he was granted the privilege of becoming a student and studying painting.

Giotto was well respected by the pope and King Roberts of Naples. I am sure it is because he was a good artist and well respected by all, but something not pointed out, all his work is biblical. Even the very first work of Giotto was the frescoes on the life of St. Francis in the church at Assisi. Between 1305-1306 Giotto painted a fresco series in the Arena Chapel in Padua “Vasari tells a 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 continuos 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.”(A Tribute to Giotto di Bondone) Giotto has a talent that stood out amongst the rest. He had a different style, he was original, and he was well loved. Giotto strayed away from the Byzantine style which nobody else had started to do. Byzantine style was the only thing these other artists knew. He was not taught his style, it came natural to him. Giotto started showing feeling and depth. When you look at his pictures you can see what he was trying to present. Giotto turned a lifeless painting style into a style that has been and will be valued for centuries to come. Some of his innovations in naturalism are listed below.

Emotions through facial expressions

Over lapping figures, using picture planes, and by representing backgrounds

Size variation

Modeling in light in shade

Single light source

Children looked child like

Off center composition

Cimabue, Giotto’s teacher, painted the Madonna Enthroned thirty years prior to Giotto’s attempt at the same painting. Cimabue’s painting appears flat and lifeless. The color and shading make the painting very dreary. The characters show no emotion. The angels are not looking at the Madonna or the child. In Giotto’s painting the angels look up at Madonna and child some even brought gifts for the baby. Giotto seems to bring all of the subjects to life and produces a feeling of warmth and humanity. This emphasis on humanity of the participants is a departure from the devotional Byzantine tradition, as in Giotto’s painting, in which the infant child does not turn to his mother, but rather offers a blessing to the worshippers. (Biography of Giotto di Bondone pg. 1) The colors are much brighter in Giotto’s version of the Madonna and child. The colors along with Giotto’s use of light and shadow provide realistic depth and a life like appearance.

All of these techniques are used in Giotto\'s painting and sculptures, which makes him stand out from all the other artists. His Lamentation fresco is a very popular piece of his work and considered to be one of his greatest. It lies in the Arena Chapel in Padua, Italy and is also referred to as Pieta.

In 1334 Giotto was recognized as the Great Master by the city of Florence, he was going to design the famous campanile “the bell tower”. Giotto