The History of Art And The Curious Lives of Famous Painters



Search:: Artists Alphabetically   Artists by Country   Artists by Century   Artists by Movement

Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia aka Giovanni di Paolo


Italian, Early Renaissance  Painter of the Sienese School

Influences: Taddeo di Bartolo, Simone Martini, Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Duccio di Buoninsegna

Mediums - panel painting, frescoes and manuscript illumination

Cause of Death - old age, he was 80

One of the Greatest Painters Of All Time

Biography Information and Facts About the Artist

The prevailing characteristic of Giovanni di Paolo's work is a surreal atmosphere and spatial inventiveness. His early church, mythological and allegoric compositions  strongly reflect the traditions of the Sienese School. The figures are somewhat elongated, graceful, even languid. His translucent, dreamlike backgrounds, convey an otherworldly quality characteristic of di Paolo's distinctive style.  His figures express raw, unfettered passion--passionate emotions that are at times grotesque and tortured. His concern was with dramatic action and human emotion. To make that dramatic action more effective, he reshaped the story to suit his own eccentric vision. di Paolo's depiction of holy figures is kind and gracious, as if they have compassion upon the longing of the soul of the believer. Overall his work is confident, probing and deeply spiritual.

Some artists of the Renaissance had a romantic concept of God and man. Like the church they believed the Bible should be the sole source of inspiration for artistic expression. Clive Bell, author and art historian asserts "The emotional renaissance in Europe was not the wide-spreading of Christian doctrines, but it was through Christian doctrine that Europe came to know of the rediscovery of the emotional significance of the Universe. Christian art is not an expression of specific Christian emotions; but it was only when men had been roused by Christianity that they began to feel the emotions that express themselves in form. It was Christianity that put Europe into that state of emotional turmoil from which sprang Christian art."

Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia avoided dazzling contrasts; his edges were smooth and he avoids all unnecessary ornament, confining himself to the sacred content of his subject matter.  The Sienna School was the part of a vibrant, rich tradition that epitomized Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia's living and painting style. His style was typified by a certain whimsical enthusiasm, and carefully articulated composition. Giovanni's paintings became prized by the church and royal court for their unique style of religious mystery and fantastic exuberance. His art was intensely individual, intensely human, and overall intensely spiritual. Church commissioned paintings created during the Early Renaissance period were the work of artists permeated with religious consciousness and with the fervent comprehension of the omniscience and omnipresence of their God. Giovanni explored in his art a new world of harmony and grace, but with a lyricism and sensitivity to color that became the personification of Sienese painting. His greatest masterpieces reflect his search for mans connection with Christ: in his vision, his material, and himself.

Foundations of the Renaissance

 The endless curiosity of Renaissance painters for all things classical spurned them on to study the human body in ways not seen since the ancients.  A change of  attitude was taking place. Artists reveled in their new found passion, the passion for beauty, for sophistication, and for elegance.

At the closing of the fourteenth century there was an awakening of the senses. Italy felt the awakening earlier than the rest of Europe, and felt it far more powerfully. Its first manifestation was a limitless and unquenchable curiosity, urging people to find out all they could about the world and about man. They looked around them at the amazing building that still stood, the Roman forum, the coliseum and realized that something truly great had preceded them. People turned enthusiastically to the study of classic literature and ancient civilizations. They were inspired by the vast store-house of long forgotten knowledge of antiquity. Walter Pater observed "No account of the Renaissance can be complete without some notice of the attempt made by certain Italian scholars of the fifteenth century to reconcile Christianity with the religion of ancient Greece. "

The newly emerging painting techniques and styles were a reflection of the transformation that was taking place in Europe, the change from the medieval period to a more enlightened, tolerant society.  Artists, writers and scholars were flourishing. Great states were being created. Large centers of commerce were being founded. High above the turreted towers of the castle and the peaked roof of the town-hall, rose the slender spire of the newly built Gothic cathedral. Everywhere the world was in transition. The newly wealthy merchat class, was becoming conscious of their own strength and were struggling to throw off the yoke of their feudal masters.

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 perspectiveHeliocentric Theory, vanishing point, Savonarola, spiritually significant,  illuminated manuscriptidealized biblical themes, scriptorium, emotion, illuminator,  Age of Discovery, axonometric drawing, curiosity about the natural world, mythology,  realistic use of colours and lightBonfire of the Vanities, Old Testament stories, ethereal and foggy backgrounds, Gospel parables, The Blackdeath, romanticized landscapes,  Christian symbolism.



Require more facts and information about the painter and the artists of the renaissance era? Poke around every nook and cranny of the known universe for information this subject. Search Here If you like this page and wish to share it, you are welcome to link to it, with our thanks.

If you feel you have worthwhile information you would like to contribute we would love to hear from you. We collect essential biographical information and artist quotes from folks all over the globe and appreciate your participation. When submitting please, if possible, site the source and provide English translation. Email to  

art  movements

top 50 painters


100 greatest paintings

artist biographies