Francesco Traini

1321 - 1365

Italian Gothic Byzantine Style Painter

Artistically and stylistically influenced by the following painters -  Duccio di Buoninsegna, Giotto Bondone and  Coppo di Marcovaldo

Education - apprenticed to Bonifazio Veronese

Cause of Death - fire

Mediums - The fresco (Italian meaning "fresh"), Tempura on wood panel



About the Artist

Francesco Traini is best known for his dramatic biblical themes.  The suggestion of sorrow, perhaps also suffering, is a strong theatrical element in his work. He infused his art with a strong sense of sorrow and pessimism. The Byzantine school of painting emphasized transcendent time and place; the only worldly concern was with how one must behave in order to get into heaven. Thus the figures in Byzantine art tend to "hover" in space without weight and solidness, without inhabiting a three-dimensional space.

In the Gothic Era, life revolved around the church, God, and getting into heaven. Christianity provided an ethical element lacking in previous cultures. The church taught that "The man who, in true obedience to the commandments of God, lives in the moral virtues, and moreover exercises himself in the interior virtues, after the direction and impulse of the Holy Spirit, acting and speaking according to righteousness, and who seeks not his own interests in time or in eternity, and who supports with true patience obscurity and affliction and every kind of misery, and who thanks God for everything, and offers himself in humble resignation,
has received the first coming of Jesus Christ according to interior exercises. When this man is purified and pacified, and turns back upon himself according to his lower nature, he may be internally enlightened, if he asks it, and if God judges that the right time has come. It may also happen that he is enlightened from the beginning of his conversion, so that he may offer himself entirely to the will of God and give up all possession of himself, which is the supreme end. But if he is to follow any further the road which I have shown, in the exterior and at the same time in the interior life, it will be much easier for him than for the man who has been raised straight from the bottom, for the former will have more light than the latter."

Francesco Traini  survived the Great Plague of the 1330s but witnessed most of his family and half the town die frightening deaths. Traini' s work, like many artists of his generation, became apocalyptic in nature, presenting a disturbing world torn between misery and loss. The horrors of the black death pervaded all aspects of Medieval culture and especially art. The effects were lasting, bringing a somber darkness to visual art, literature, and music. The dreadful trauma of this era instigated the imaginations of writers and painters in bleak and disturbing ways for decades to follow. Hell, Satan and the Grim Reaper became favored subjects. Despite the pessimism of the era, Traini's commitment to his work makes him particularly effective in conveying the emotions connected with having lived through  apocalyptic times.



About The Gothic Era

The Gothic style of painting started in the 12th century. Early Gothic art was characterized by Christian symbolism. The Virgin Mary and Christ changed from the Byzantine iconic form to a more forgiving and approachable figure. The paintings were darkly mystical, infused with an ethereal emotional intensity. Above all Gothic painters were storytellers, narrating both Biblical and secular stories and legends. Altarpieces, portraits and sculptures were meticulously executed, with the concern for perfection typical of the Gothic tradition.

Europe was trying to put the memory of the "dark ages" behind it and move on to a more enlightened era. Barbarians no longer ran rough shod, putting entire villages to the torch and slaughtering the local peasants. Without the constant fear of invasion, art and architecture found fertile ground to grow. Gothic painters were not simply anonymous lowly craftsmen, but well respected professionals. They were held in high esteem and often interacted with clergy and wealthy patrons. The Gothic style is a mystical, narrative style of painting.




His subjects, like his predecessors, are all religious – the Virgin Mary, the Life of Christ, the Apostles, Angeles and the Life of St. Francis.



Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with the Byzantine Style-   spiritually significant,  illuminated manuscript,  idealized biblical themes, scriptorium, illuminator, plague,  jewel-tone colours, Old Testament stories, elongated figures, Gospel parables, piety,  Christian symbolism.

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Major Painters of the Byzantine Style
Coppo Di Marcovaldo
Duccio di Buoninsegna
Jacopo Di Cione
Ambrogio Lorenzetti,
Pietro Lorenzetti
Lippo Memmi
Andrea Di Orcagna
Andrei Rublev
Theophanes The Greek
Francesco Traini
Paolo Veneziano


References - Light, Life, and Love : selections from the German mystics of the middle ages
by William Ralph Inge