Giotto is a truly iconic figure for the art of the whole world. He became the founder of the Italian school of painting and is rightfully considered one of the first artists who began to use new ways of representing space. This master laid the foundations of the Proto-Renaissance, and his works inspired such famous and talented artists of a later time as Leonardo da Vinci, Rafael Santi and Michelangelo Buonarotti.
Until recently, there were disputes about the date of birth of the artist and his origin. In the writings of Vasari it is indicated that he was born in 1276 in the family of a peasant named Bondone. In another version, he was born in Florence and belonged to the parish of the church of Santa Maria Novella, as indicated by some documents of this city of that era. According to this story, his father was a blacksmith. Recently discovered documents confirm the artist’s birth date in 1266, in the town of Vespignano, now named after Vicchio, near Florence.
There are many legends about how he became an artist, but all of them were composed after his death and are little like real stories. Also criticized is the story of Vasari that Giotto was a student of Cimabue. Since he wrote his Biographies three hundred years after the death of a character, it is difficult to say that his words are 100% true.
In 1301, the artist acquired a house in Florence and married, which is documented. One of the earliest known works of the master are the frescoes of the church of St. Francis in Assisi. Since there is a very large amount of work completed in about two years, it is impossible to say that all of them belong to the brush alone Giotto. Of course, several masters worked here, but the integrity of the plan and the general style of execution suggest that they worked under the guidance of the master and according to his plan.
The Capella del Arena in Padua is considered one of the most famous works of the artist, he is even credited with her creation as an architect. It is well known that a nave was painted under his leadership, and the painting on the walls of the apse belongs to his school and was completed about 12-15 years later. Gotto can be argued about the undoubted authorship by documentary evidence of a contemporary of events.
The frescoes of the chapel give us an understanding of how far the artist was ahead of his contemporaries. They are placed in strict accordance with the geometry of the room and the level of its lighting. The master’s special talent was manifested in the use of composition and the beginnings of spatial and perspective vision.
It is believed that from 1315 to 1318 the artist was at the papal palace in Avignon, where he was seriously influenced by the local style of painting. After returning, he painted the walls of the chapel of Peruzzi and the chapel of Bardi in the church of Santa Croce (Holy Cross) in Florence. Along with traditional al fresco painting (for wet plaster), the secco technique (for dry, previously moistened plaster) was used. Because of this, part of the paint layer is poorly preserved.
In the last years of his life, the artist was a court painter in Naples, at the court of King Robert of Anjou. In 1334, he received the title of chief architect of Florence. He and his students worked on frescoes in the chapel of St. Magdalene, traveled to Milan to create the frescoes of Atzone Visconti. Giotto died immediately after returning from this city, in 1337, was buried in Santa Maria del Fiore. Of his eight children, two followed in the footsteps of his father, but did not even come close to his skill level.