Italy * 1266? – 1337
Thought to be born in Colle di Vespignano, near Florence, Italy, Giotto di Bondone would grow up to be one of key masters of painting, single-handedly revolutionising the art. Taught by Cimabue, who firmly stuck to the Greek-Byzantine traditions, Giotto established the foundations of the Latin-Italian approach to painting.
He moved away from standard portraits and poses with little connection to each other to the painting of individuals with distinct facial expressions and dress according to their social class. His painting style added depth with figures dressed in draped clothes with distinct fabric folds. Moreover, the grouping of figures shows a keen eye for composition and balance as well as a sense of perspective as he places one figure in front of the other – not often seen in pre-Giotto paintings.
Giotto came particularly into his own through the painting of “buon fresco” (true fresco), which sees the paint directly applied to wet lime plaster. Key works here include “The legend of Saint Francis” in the Cappella Bardi in San Croce (1317-18) and ”The Episodes in the life of John The Evangelist and John the Baptist” in the Cappella Peruzzi, San Croce.
In his studio he established the technically-inspired practice of the master making the preliminary drawing of a work, which would then be handed to the painters in the studio to paint the frescos.
Giotto was also a court painter in Naples and a building master and as such he designed the Campanile in the Dome in Florence. Leaving an enduring legacy in painting and architecture, Giotto died on 8 January 1337 in Florence.