The History of Art And The Curious Lives of Famous Painters
Giotto Di Bondone
Education -apprentice to Cimabue
Cause of Death - old age, he was 70
Mediums - Tempera on oak panelGiotto's Biography
Giotto sent his formative years apprenticed to Cimabue. Author John C. Van Dyke asserted "Cimabue's pupil, Giotto, was a great improver on all his predecessors because he was a man of extraordinary genius. He would have been great in any time, and yet he was not great enough to throw off wholly the Byzantine traditions. He tried to do it. He studied nature in a general way, changed the type of face somewhat by making the jaw squarer, and gave it expression and nobility. To the figure he gave more motion, dramatic gesture, life. The drapery was cast in broader, simpler masses, with some regard for line, and the form and movement of the body were somewhat emphasized through it. In methods Giotto was more knowing, but not essentially different from his contemporaries; his subjects were from the common stock of religious story; but his imaginative force and invention were his own. Bound by the conventionalities of his time he could still create a work of nobility and power. He came too early for the highest achievement. He had genius, feeling, fancy, almost everything except accurate knowledge of the laws of nature and art. His art was the best of its time, but it still lacked, nor did that of his immediate followers go much beyond it technically.."
According to Renaissance Art Historian Giorgio Vasari Giotto was something of a prankster.. " It is said that when Giotto was only a boy with Cimabue, he once painted a fly on the nose of a face that Cimabue had drawn, so naturally that the master returning to his work tried more than once to drive it away with his hand, thinking it was real. And I might tell you of many other jests played by Giotto, but of this enough." from : Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects published c. 1550
Renaissance art historian, Richard Muther explains, "All the other Italian religious painters work out their expression with toil; he only can give it with a touch. All the other great Italian colorists see only the beauty of colour, but Giotto also its brightness. And none of the others understood to the full its symbolic power; but with --Giotto--there is always, not only a colour harmony, but a colour secret. It is not merely to make the picture glow, but to remind you that St. Francis preaches to a fire-worshipping king, that Giotto covers the wall with purple and scarlet;--and above, in the dispute at Assisi, the angry father is dressed in red, varying like passion; and the robe with which his protector embraces St. Francis, blue, symbolizing the peace of Heaven, Of course certain conventional colours were traditionally employed by all painters; but only Giotto invents a symbolism of his own for every picture.
Giotto's paintings are encoded in a visual system so moving and powerful we can hardly bring ourselves to think about it. Most prominently featured in his work are the holy figures of the Christian faith-- Christ, Saints, The Cross and Virgin Mary
About The High Renaissance Period
Classical humanism, was a major aspect of the Italian Renaissance. This intellectual movement was based on the idea that every persons life had value and dignity. Humanism also stressed man's position in the natural world. The Humanists believed modern man should look to the classical writings and art of the ancient Greeks and Romans as exemplary guides for ethical living and scholarship. John Donne, famous Renaissance poet and writer stated, "No man is an island. entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. ."
During the Renascence the spirit of an era awoke, revitalized with knowledge and creativity. Although art still served a specific functions, which were primarily religious, painters added more of their individual spirit and personal vision to their creations. John Ruskin, famous art historian declared, "The art of any country is the exponent of its social and political virtues . The art, or general productive and formative energy, of any country, is an exact exponent of its ethical life. you can have noble art only from noble persons, associated under laws fitted to their time and circumstance."
The major painters of the Renaissance were not only artists but men of great genius who gave the world their great intellectual gifts. Florentine and Venetian painting were both formed by extraordinary personalities. These independent creative geniuses tackled mathematical, artistic and philosophical problems of the highest interest, and presented solutions that have never lost their value. The sense of humanism pervading renaissance painting is still palpable. The painters touched on a multitude of issues regarding the human condition - death, love, reason, religion, universal morality, social problems.
Key Descriptive Words and Phrases associated with the Renaissance Movement - rebirth, rediscovery of the classical world, City-state, Humanism, Humanist, Francesco Petrarch, Reform, The Prince, Theocracy, The Inquisition, Human Reasoning, publication of Della Pittura, a book about the laws of mathematical perspective for artists, sfumato, chiaroscuro, linear perspective, Heliocentric Theory, vanishing point, Savonarola, spiritually significant, illuminated manuscript, idealized biblical themes, scriptorium, emotion, illuminator, Age of Discovery, axonometric drawing, curiosity about the natural world, mythology, realistic use of colours and light, Bonfire of the Vanities, Old Testament stories, ethereal and foggy backgrounds, Gospel parables, The Blackdeath, romanticized landscapes, Christian symbolism.
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