Annie Lee | Sep 13, 2023

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Giotto di Bondone or Ambrogiotto di Bondone, known as Giotto, born in 1266 or 1267 in Vespignano or Romignano and died on January 8, 1337 in Florence, was a Florentine painter, sculptor and architect of the Trecento, whose works are at the origin of the renewal of Western painting. It is the influence of his painting that will provoke the vast general movement of the Renaissance from the following century.

Giotto was part of the Pre-Renaissance artistic movement, of which he was one of the masters, which emerged in Italy at the beginning of the 14th century. At the end of the Middle Ages, Giotto was the first artist whose thought and new vision of the world helped to build that movement, the humanism of the Renaissance, which placed man at the center of the universe and made him master of his own destiny.

The frescoes that Giotto painted in Florence (Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence), Assisi (Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi) and Padua (Chapel of the Scrovegni in the church of the Arena in Padua) are among the highlights of Christian art.

His influence on the generations of artists who followed him is immense, so much so that we have been able to speak of "Giottesque" schools in relation to certain schools of painting that group together painters whose work was marked by that of the Tuscan master. Painters such as those of the Rimini school (Giovanni Baronzio, Neri da Rimini, Pietro da Rimini) are among his heirs following Giotto's passage, which is difficult to date (probably between 1303 and 1309) in their city, where, between his stays in Padua and Assisi, he came to paint a cycle of frescoes (now lost) for the church of San Francesco.


According to most historians, Giotto was born in 1267, in Colle di Vespignano (or Romignano), a village near Vicchio di Mugello, northeast of Florence, in Tuscany. This deduction is based on Pucci's verse from the Chronicle of Giovanni Villani and seems fairly reliable, though the date may be off by a year or two. A minority of historians place his date of birth in 1276, according to the chronology proposed by Vasari in the biography dedicated to the artist in The Lives. The date given by Vasari would not be reliable if it is accepted that Giotto must have been at least twenty years old around 1290, when he painted his first works.

He was born into a family of small landowners (Bondone was his father), a family that, like many others, only later moved to Florence. According to tradition, so far undocumented, the family entrusted their son to Cimabue's workshop.

According to the legend, collected by Lorenzo Ghiberti and Giorgio Vasari, "Giotto as a child would have begun by tending the goats of his father Bondone, and the painter Cimabue, surprising him drawing on a stone with a charcoal near a stream, marveling at his precocious genius, would have taken the young shepherd, aged about twelve, to his studio. A commemorative plaque can be seen near the bridge where this hypothetical meeting took place.

The early years of the painter have been the subject of almost legendary beliefs since his lifetime. Giorgio Vasari also tells how Giotto was able to draw a perfect circumference without the need for a compass, Giotto's famous "O". Equally legendary is the episode of a joke made by Giotto to Cimabue while painting a fly on a board: it would have been so realistic that Cimabue, returning to work on the board, would have tried to chase it away:

"It is reported that Giotto, in his youth, once painted in such a striking manner a fly on the nose of a figure begun by Cimabue that this master, returning to his work, tried several times to chase it away with his hand before realizing his mistake."

- Giorgio Vasari, The Quick

Other more recent texts affirm that Giotto and Cimabue met in Florence. In any case, it was Cimabue who trained the promising young boy.

Giotto married Ciuta (Ricevuta) di Lapo del Pela around 1287. The couple had four daughters and four sons, the eldest of whom, Francesco, became a painter himself. He was enrolled in the company of painters in Florence in 1311 and had Taddeo Gaddi, Bernardo Daddi, Puccio Capanna and Ottaviano da Faenza as students. Giotto saw to it that another of his sons, also named Francesco, became prior of the church of San Martino in Vespignano, as well as his procurator in Mugello, where he expanded the family's land holdings. He then married three of his daughters to men in the vicinity of the Mugello hill, an unequivocal sign of his strong "Mugellanitie" and of the deep ties the painter maintained throughout his life with his native territory. Recent studies point to the fragment of the Madonna preserved in the Pieve di Borgo San Lorenzo in Mugello, dated around 1290, as one of his earliest works. Giotto is officially named for the first time in a document of 1309, in which it is recorded that Palmerino di Guido repaid a loan to Assisi in his name as a painter.

Giotto opened a workshop where he was surrounded by students; he was mainly concerned with the design of the works and the setting up of the most important compositions, while he left the secondary ones to the assistants.

Giotto went beyond the dematerialization of the image, the abstractionism typical of Byzantine art, and masterfully reappropriated natural reality, of which he was a great narrator, skilled at organizing scenes with realism and creating groups of characters that interacted with each other, inserted into a space of which he had great mastery by opening up to the third dimension, that is, to depth. In his technique, he marks a break with the Italian Gothic art of the Duecento. He infused a certain naturalism into painting, abandoning its hieratic conception, that is to say with the symbolic representation of characters in a rather fixed conception of stature. This naturalism is reflected in the fact that the characters are always characterized by a remarkable expressiveness of feelings and moods, in a representation of the human figure rendered with plasticity, with a solid sculptural accent. Giotto conducts a thorough investigation of human emotion, always rendered with a vivid realism.

He represents scenes in which the emphasis is on communication between characters. The perspective has a vanishing point, although the space depicted is sometimes ambiguous due to the placement of the characters that hide the vanishing lines. While leaving aside the delicate French representation of the characters to emphasize their solidity, he still continues to draw on the repertoire of Gothic motifs such as quatrefoils.

His paintings are of religious inspiration: numerous altarpieces, large surfaces covered with frescoes in Padua (scenes from the Bible in the chapel of the Annunziata or of the Scrovegni) and in Assisi (lower church of the Basilica and, above all, scenes from the life of Francis of Assisi in the upper church of the same Basilica of St. Francis, frescoes in the Palazzo della Ragione in Padua, destroyed in 1420).

Madone de San Giorgio alla Costa

According to some scholars, the first panel painted by Giotto alone would be the Madonna of San Giorgio alla Costa (in Florence, now in the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art), which may predate the Assisi frescoes. For others, however, it would be a later work than the construction site in Assisi and also the Crucifix of Santa Maria Novella.

This work shows a solid rendering of the volume of the figures whose attitudes are more natural than in the past. The throne is inserted in a central perspective, almost forming an architectural "niche", suggesting an impression of depth.

The novelty of the language of this panel, relatively small and shortened on all its margins, is best understood by making a comparison with the Florentine examples of majesty that immediately preceded it, such as those of Coppo di Marcovaldo and Cimabue.

Frescoes of the superior basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi

The Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, the headquarters of the order and the burial place of its founder, was completed in 1253. The precise beginning of the fresco decoration of the interior walls remains a mystery due to the destruction of the ancient archives in the 19th century; it is reasonable to assume that it dates back to shortly after the middle of the 13th century for the lower basilica, and to the years 1288-1292 for the upper basilica.

The walls of the upper church of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (with a single nave with apse and stained glass windows), are covered with allegorical frescoes by Giotto on the theme of the life of the saint, and are made in the last decade of the thirteenth century.

They stand alongside works by Simone Martini (c. 1280-1344), the Episodes of the Life and Passion of Christ, and Ambrogio Lorenzetti (c. 1290-1348), The Madonna and Saints and The Stigmata.

Whether or not Giotto was involved in the fresco decoration of the upper basilica is a matter of debate. Many historians believe that Giotto's intervention, from the Stories of Isaac to almost the entire cycle of the Life of St. Francis, is certain. Luciano Bellosi (1985), Miklós Boskovits (2000) Angelo Tartuferi (2004) and Serena Romano (2008) have expressed themselves favorably in this regard. Other historians think that the intervention of a painter of the Roman school, such as Pietro Cavallini, is much more likely. Richard Offner (1939), Millard Meiss (1960), Alastair Smart (1971), Federico Zeri (1997) and Bruno Zanardi (1997) have expressed themselves in this sense.

According to the first line of thought, Giotto would have coordinated, over a period of about two years, between 1290 and 1292, different artists who would have left different imprints on the cycle, even when conceived under a unified vision. Giotto would have moved away from the site of Assisi before painting the first and last three scenes of the cycle (the last four to be painted) which would be attributable to the Maestro della Santa Cecilia.

According to the second hypothesis, Giotto's arrival would be dated around 1297, when part of the frescoes in the chapel of San Nicola in the lower basilica were completed, with the Annunciation on the entrance wall and the two scenes of the Postmortem Miracles of St. Francis and the Death and Resurrection of the Suessa child, which would have obvious technical and executive affinities with the Scrovegni chapel and would differ from the Franciscan cycle.

These frescoes, which inaugurate a new and lively way of painting, all based on the observation of nature, the expressive precision of attitudes and features, must have excited the enthusiasm of contemporaries. It is the first time that one breaks so openly with the Byzantine tradition, with the themes of convention eternally reproduced, according to the same rules, to be inspired by the popular stories and the uses of the time.

The first frescoes in the upper church were done in the transept by Maestro Oltremontano and then by the workshop of Cimabue, where the young Giotto (1288-1292) was probably present. Giotto's direct intervention has been emphatically acknowledged by many historians in two scenes in the upper part of the right aisle with the Stories of Isaac: Blessing of Isaac to Jacob and Isaac Repels Esau, which are in the third bay at window level. The painter of these two scenes has a particular predisposition to the volumetric rendering of bodies through accentuated chiaroscuro, and has managed to place his own scenes in a fictitious architectural environment, drawn according to a perspective and lateral foreshortening. The technique used is also different with, for the first time, the use of "daylight" put into practice.

According to the theory that Giotto was the author of these frescoes, he frescoed the lower part of the nave with the twenty-eight Stories of St. Francis, which marked a turning point in Western painting. The Franciscan cycle faithfully illustrates the text of the Legend compiled by St. Bonaventure and declared by him to be the only official reference text for Franciscan biography. Below each scene is a descriptive caption taken from the various chapters of the Legend that are illustrated.

This cycle is considered by many to be the beginning of modernity and of Latin painting. The sacred iconographic tradition was indeed based on the Byzantine pictorial tradition and therefore on an iconographic repertoire codified over the centuries; the contemporary subject (a modern saint) and a repertoire of extraordinary episodes (for example, no one had ever received the stigmata before St. Francis) obliged the painter to create new models and figures in the frescoes, only partially inspired by the models of painters who had already tried their hand at Franciscan episodes on wood (such as Bonaventura Berlinghieri or the Maestro del San Francesco Bardi). A new course of biblical studies (led by Franciscan and Dominican theologians) is juxtaposed, which prefers the reading of the texts in their literal sense (without too much symbolism and allegorical references) allowing to lead the faithful to the most lively encounter possible and to an identification with the sacred text. The choice of representations in modern clothing is favored and the emphasis is placed on the expression of experience.

Crucifix of Santa Maria Novella

His first Florentine masterpiece is the great crucifix in Santa Maria Novella, mentioned as a work of Giotto in a document of 1312 by a certain Ricuccio di Puccio del Miller, but also by Ghiberti, dated around 1290, contemporary therefore to the Stories of St. Francis of the Upper Basilica of Assisi.

This is the first subject that Giotto revolutionized: unlike the iconography now "canonized" by Giunta Pisano of the Christus patiens sinuously arched to the left (for the observer), Giotto paints the corpse vertically, with the legs bent, which allows the full weight to be released. The form, which is no longer sublimated by the usual stylistic elements, thus becomes human and popular.

These novelties contain all the meaning of his art and of the new religious sensibility that gives Christ back his earthly dimension and draws from it the deepest spiritual meaning. Only the halo recalls his divine nature, but Giotto shows a humble man who really suffers, with whom the observer can compare his pains.

In these years, Giotto was already an established painter, able to have many imitators in the city, while being only the forerunner of an avant-garde current that later imposed itself.

The Tuscan and Florentine context of the time was animated by great innovative ferments that influenced Giotto: In Pisa, the workshop of Nicola Pisano and then his son Giovanni began a process of recovering the fullness of form and values of the art of classical Rome, updated by transalpine Gothic influences, while Siena, in privileged contact with many European cultural centers, saw the grafting of Gothic novelties on the Byzantine tradition in the painting of an artist like Duccio di Buoninsegna.

Saint Francis of Assisi receiving the stigmata

The altarpiece signed in Pisa and preserved in the Louvre in Paris, depicting St. Francis of Assisi receiving the stigmata, in which the stories of the predella are taken directly from scenes in Assisi, is also considered to date from the beginning of Giotto's activity: for this reason it is considered by some to be a reason for attributing the Franciscan Cycle of Assisi.

First stay in Rome

In 1298, having probably completed the frescoes in Assisi, he went to Rome for a first stay at the request of Cardinal Jacopo Gaetani dei Stefaneschi, nephew of Pope Boniface VIII. Ferdinando Leopoldo Del Migliore mentioned in the 17th century that Giotto worked in Rome during the time of Pope Boniface VIII, pontiff from 1295 to 1303.

It is possible that Giotto worked in Rome until around 1300, the year of the Jubilee, an experience of which no significant trace remains. For this reason, it is still not possible to judge his influence on Roman painters or, on the contrary, to appreciate to what extent his style was influenced by the Roman school.

Return to Florence

Cadastral documents from 1301 and 1304 allow us to know about his properties in Florence, which are important. For this reason, it has been hypothesized that at the age of thirty, Giotto was already at the head of a workshop capable of fulfilling the most prestigious orders.

During this period, he painted the Badio polyptych (Uffizi Gallery), found in the convent of Santa Croce in Florence. Because of his fame throughout Italy, Giotto was then called to work in Rimini and Padua.


The activity of the Florentine master in Rimini would be around 1299, as suggested by a miniature by Neri da Rimini preserved in the Cini Foundation in Venice (inv.2030), signed and dated in 1300, which, in the figure of the blessing Christ, shows an obvious similarity with the Redeemer represented in the original picture rail of the cross found by Federico Zeri in 1957 in the Jeckyll Collection in London, from which the lateral sides representing the mourning figures are absent. It is mentioned in contemporary written sources and testifies to the early appearance of a Rimini school with Giovanni Baronzio, Pietro da Rimini, and Neri da Rimini, on which the influence of Giotto is admitted, so much so that it has been referred to as the "Giottesque school of Rimini".

In Rimini, as in Assisi, he worked in a Franciscan context, in the ancient church of San Francesco, now known as the Malatesta Temple, where he painted a lost cycle of frescoes, while the Crucifix still remains in the apse. The autograph of the latter is currently shared by all researchers. In a better state of preservation than the Santa Maria Novella crucifix, it is already oriented towards the more mature interpretations of Giotto, but remains close to works such as the Badia polyptych.


The documentation of the construction and consecration of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, entirely frescoed by Giotto, allows us to establish with certainty that the artist was in Padua between 1303 and 1305. The frescoes in the Palazzo della Ragione in Padua and most of the frescoes in the Basilica of St. Anthony, also painted during this stay, have been lost. Of these, only a few busts of saints in the Chapel of the Blessings and some scenes in the Chapter House (Stigmata of St. Francis, Martyrdom of the Franciscans in Ceuta, Crucifixion and Faces of Prophets) remain.

The lost frescoes in the Palazzo della Ragione, most likely commissioned by Pietro d'Abano, are mentioned in a pamphlet of 1340, the Visio Aegidii Regis Patavi by the notary Giovanni da Nono, who describes them in an enthusiastic tone, testifying to the fact that the astrological subject of the cycle is taken from a text that was widespread in the fourteenth century, the Lucidator, which explains human temperaments according to the influences of the stars. Padua was a culturally very active university center at the time, a place of meeting and confrontation between humanists and scientists, and Giotto participated in this atmosphere.

Northern Italian painters were also influenced by Giotto: Guariento di Arpo, Giusto de 'Menabuoi, Jacopo Avanzi and Altichiero fused his plastic and naturalistic language with local traditions.

From 1303 to 1306, Giotto painted the fifty-three frescoes of the Scrovegni Chapel or Santa Maria dell'Arena Chapel in the church of the Arena, which are considered his masterpiece and one of the turning points in the history of European painting. He was probably around forty years old when he began the decoration of the chapel, where he painted frescoes relating the life of Christ, which are one of the peaks of Christian art.

The whole cycle is considered the criterion for assessing all works of doubtful attribution to him, as the autograph of the Florentine master in this cycle is certain.

Commissioned by the Paduan banker Enrico Scrovegni and still intact, this iconographic cycle brings together in the same space scenes from the life of Joachim, the Virgin and Christ, a synthesis almost unheard of in Western art.

Enrico Scrovegni bought the land of the ancient Roman arena of Padua on February 6, 1300 to build a sumptuous palace whose chapel is the private oratory, destined one day to house the tomb of his wife and his own. Construction probably began in 1301. The chapel was consecrated for the first time on March 25, 1303. In 1304, Pope Benedict XI promulgated an indulgence for those who visited the chapel. The completed building was consecrated on March 25, 1305.

Giotto painted the entire surface with a unitary iconographic and decorative project, inspired by an Augustinian theologian of subtle skill, recently identified by Giuliano Pisani as Alberto da Padova. Among the sources used are numerous Augustinian texts, including De doctrina Christiana, De libero arbitrio, De quantitate animae and De Genesi contra Manicheos, the apocryphal Gospels of Pseudo-Matthew and Nicodemus, Jacopo da Varazze's Golden Legend, and, for minor iconographic details, Pseudo-Bonaventure's Meditations on the Life of Jesus, as well as texts from the medieval Christian tradition, including Il Fisiologo. Giotto painted a cycle centered on the theme of salvation, dividing it into 40 scenes.

It starts from the lunette at the top of the triumphal arch, where God initiates the reconciliation with man, and continues on the highest register of the south wall with the Stories of Joachim and Anna. It continues on the opposite wall with the Stories of Mary. The scene of the Annunciation and the panel of the Visitation appear on the triumphal arch. The Stories of the Earthly Life of Jesus, begins in the second register of the south wall and runs along the two central registers of the walls, with a passage over the triumphal arch with the panel of the Betrayal of Judas. The last frame presents the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles (Pentecost).

Immediately below begins the fourth register, composed of fourteen monochrome allegories, alternating with mirrors in faux marble, which symbolize the vices and virtues: the north wall presents the allegories of seven vices; along the south wall are represented the allegories of the seven virtues, the four cardinal ones and the three theological ones. The vices and the virtues are facing each other in pairs and are commanded to reach Paradise, overcoming the obstacles posed by the vices, with the help of the corresponding virtues

The last scene, which occupies the entire counter-façade, represents the Last Judgment and the Vision of Paradise. The great novelty discovered by Giuliano Pisani is that the figures under the throne of Christ the Judge do not represent the symbols of the four evangelists, but are respectively, from the left, a bear with a pike, a centaur, an eagle

The deep blue used by the painter in all his frescoes, contrasting with the gold also very present (used in particular for the halos of the holy figures and the stars of the vault) is one of the outstanding characteristics of the work of Giotto.

The complete cycle took about two years to complete, a surprisingly short time that can only be explained by the total technical mastery Giotto had achieved and by a radically new organization of his work. It seems that he took full advantage of his previous experience in Assisi to complete the decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel.

A tradition considers that Dante Alighieri, exiled from Florence in 1302, was in Padua when Giotto carried out this work. The choice of some of the compositions with which Giotto decorated the chapel of Santa Maria dell'Arena is attributed to his influence. In Dante's Inferno are some of the contemporaries whom the poet considers unworthy of salvation, but he does not name them explicitly, merely designating them symbolically by their coat of arms. He thus precipitates in hell, in the seventeenth song of the Divine Comedy, Reginaldo Scrovegni, famous usurer of Padua, by evoking the coat of arms of the family represented by "a big sow of azure".

In the chapel, Giotto's painting shows its full expressive maturity. The composition respects the principle of the organic relationship between architecture and painting, obtaining the result of a complex unity. The frescoes are all of identical size. The decorative partitions, the architectures and the false opening of the wall, are all elements that obey a unitary vision, not only perspective but also chromatic; the intense blue of the vault dominates and is repeated in each scene.

The natural environments and architectures are built as real perspective boxes, in an intuitive perspective, which are sometimes repeated so as not to contradict the respect of the unity of the places, like Anne's house or the Temple, whose architecture is also repeated identically from different angles.

The figures are solid and voluminous and made even more solid by the chromatic variations, where the tone of the colors becomes lighter in the prominent areas. The rendering of the human figures is realistic and not stylized.

The scenes have an animated narrative. The composition has no frills, but details that make the characters realistic. Emotions and states of mind are evident, as is the eloquence of gestures and expressions. It is a painting that expresses the humanity of the sacred characters.

Some technical devices enrich the whole environment with material effects: polished stucco or Roman stucco for the fake marbles, metallic parts in the halo of Christ of the Judgement, wooden tables inserted in the wall, use of encaustic paint in the fake reliefs.

Many revivals of classical art and French Gothic sculpture are present, encouraged by the comparison with the statues on the altar of Giovanni Pisano, but above all, we note a greater expressiveness in the intense looks of the characters and in their gestures.

Many narrative details, even minor ones, are highly suggestive: objects, furniture, clothing reflect the usage and fashion of the time. Some of the characters are real portraits, sometimes going as far as caricature, which give a sense of the chronic transposition of real life into the sacred representation. We can therefore say that Giotto proceeded to a rediscovery of truth (truth of feelings, passions, human physiognomy, light and color) "in the certainty of a measurable space.

A crucifix painted by Giotto, dating from the same years (1303-1305), is kept in the Civic Museum of Padua. It comes from the altar of the Scrovegni chapel, and is very refined due to the decorative richness of the enamelled colors, the Gothic shape of the support, the realism in the figure of Christ and the suffering attitude of Mary and St. John in the side panels.

Lower Basilica of Assisi

Between 1306 and 1311, Giotto was again in Assisi to paint frescoes in the transept of the lower basilica, including the Stories of the Infancy of Christ, the Franciscan Allegories on the Veils, and the Chapel of the Magdalene, to whom the Franciscans had a special devotion. In reality, the hand of the master is almost absent: he left the realization of many commissions to his entourage.

The patron is Monsignor Teobaldo Pontano, in office from 1296 to 1329, and the work covers many years, involving many helpers: Parente di Giotto, Maestro delle Vele and Palmerino di Guido (the latter mentioned with the master in a document of 1309 where he undertakes to pay a debt). The story is taken from the Golden Legend by Jacopo da Varazze. Giotto made Assisi benefit from the progress made in Padua in scenographic solutions and spatiality, in technique and, above all, in the quality of light and warm colors.

The Franciscan Allegories occupy the vaults of the transept: Poverty, Chastity, Obedience, Glory of St. Francis; the scenes of the cycle of the Life of Christ are arranged along the walls and vaults of the right transept. The liveliness of the scenes, the various scenographic and spatial solutions and some direct repeats of the Padua cycle have allowed scholars and critics to agree that the general project of the frescoes belongs to Giotto, but that the pictorial realization was delegated to members of the workshop.

Return to Florence

In 1311, Giotto had already returned to Florence; documents from 1314 are preserved, relating to his extra-pictorial economic activities.

His presence in Florence is documented with certainty in the years 1314, 1318, 1320, 1325, 1326 and 1327. Shortly before his departure from Florence in 1327, he enrolled in the Arte dei Medici e Speziali which, for the first time, welcomed painters, with his most faithful pupils, Bernardo Daddi and Taddeo Gaddi, following him in his last adventures.


Riccuccio del fu Puccio, a wealthy Florentine resident of Santa Maria Novella, commissioned Giotto to paint the Pulcra tabula for the church of San Domenico in Prato in June 1312, proof that artistic events in the proud Tuscan city were placed during the fourteenth century under the sign of Florentine painting, which went beyond its geographical proximity to the capital. The work may have been destroyed in the fire of the great church of Prato on September 12, 1647.

Other stays in Rome

Giotto certainly returned to Rome during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XI. According to legend, the pope, through one of his emissaries, urged Giotto to give him the purest proof of his talent. Giotto then drew a perfect circle freehand on a sheet of paper intended for the pontiff. The former shepherd, demonstrating his genius, was then able to travel to Rome to create several works.

In Rome, Giotto executed a number of works, many of which are lost or ruined, including a crucifix painted in tempera for the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, and the frescoes of San Giorgio in Velabro, of which Stefaneschi had been created cardinal-deacon in 1295.

In 1313, in a letter, Giotto instructs Benedetto di Pace to recover the household goods of the owner of the rented house in Rome ; the document is the testimony of a new stay in Rome, which takes place in the year in which he executes the mosaic the Navicella degli Apostoli for the portico of the ancient Vatican Basilica on commission of Cardinal Jacopo Caetani Stefaneschi, archpriest and benefactor of the Basilica, and deacon of San Giorgio in Velabro, who paid him two hundred florins and, for the occasion, composed some verses to be inserted in the mosaic. For two centuries, the mosaic will be the most admired masterpiece of the artist. The work that has been moved and restored several times. It now adorns the vestibule of the huge church (originally, it decorated the facade).

The lunette of the Navicella must have been part of a larger mosaic cycle. The lunette has been extensively redone and today only one angel could be an original from Giotto's time. A copy was made by two 15th century artists, Pisanello and Parri Spinelli, which is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The two tondi with busts of angels now preserved in the papal necropolis of the Basilica of Sant'Pietro and in San Pietro Ispano in Boville Ernica (Frosinone) are part of the same cycle. However, some historians date them to the end of the 13th century: they show the characteristics of the Roman school of that period and are probably the work of local workers who were inspired by the Florentine artist whose style is recognizable by the solidity of the modeling and the monumental aspect of the figures. Torrigio (1618) dates them to 1298.

The composition of the Navicella can be reconstructed from the drawings, made before its destruction: it represented the apostles' boat in the middle of a storm; on the right Peter is saved by Christ, while on the left an imposing city is seen. The subject was inspired by works of late antiquity and early Christianity, which Giotto had certainly had the opportunity to see in Rome, maintaining a continuous dialogue with the classical world.

Madonna of Ognissanti and other Florentine works

Rome constituted a parenthesis in a period when Giotto lived mainly in Florence. There he painted the works of his artistic maturity such as the Madonna of Ognissanti, the Dormitio Virginis in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin and the Crucifix of Ognissanti.

In the Dormitio Virginis, Giotto succeeds in reinventing an ancient theme and composition through the arrangement of figures in space. The Crucifix of Ognissanti, still in place, was painted for the Order of the Humiliated and resembles similar figures in Assisi, so much so that it has sometimes been attributed to Parente di Giotto.

The Majesty of the Uffizi Gallery must be compared to two famous precedents by Cimabue and Duccio di Buoninsegna, in the same room of the Museum, in order to understand its modern language: the Gothic-style throne in which the powerful and monumental figure of Mary is inserted is drawn with a central perspective, the Madonna is surrounded by angels and four saints that stand out plastically, highlighted by the golden background.

Works in Santa Croce

In 1318 according to Ghiberti, Giotto began painting four chapels and as many polyptychs for four different Florentine families in the Franciscan church of Santa Croce: Bardi Chapel (Life of St. Francis), Peruzzi Chapel (Lives of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, plus the polyptych with Taddeo Gaddi), and the lost chapels Giugni (Stories of the Apostles) and Tosinghi Spinelli (Stories of the Virgin), of which the Assumption of the Maestro di Figline survives. Three of these chapels were located on the right of the central nave and one on the left: only the first two on the right remain, the Bardi and Peruzzi chapels.

The Peruzzi Chapel, with its frescoes of the Life of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, was much admired during the Renaissance. The current state of conservation is greatly compromised by various factors that have occurred over time, but this does not prevent us from appreciating the quality of the figures, which have a remarkable plastic rendering thanks to the careful use of chiaroscuro and are characterized by a thorough study of the rendering and spatial representation.

The architectures of contemporary buildings, augmented in perspective, which extend, even beyond the frames of the scenes, offer a snapshot of the urban style of Giotto's time. The sacred stories develop in a calibrated manner, with numerous and moving figures depicted in perspective scenes. The architectures are also arranged expressively, with sharp edges that accentuate certain features.

Giotto's style evolves, with wide and overflowing draperies, as never seen before, which reinforce the monumentality of the figures.

Giotto's compositional talent became a reason of inspiration for later artists such as Masaccio in the frescoes of the Brancacci Chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine (where he copied, for example, the old men of the scene of the Resurrection of Drusiana) and Michelangelo two centuries later, who copied several figures.

The Peruzzi polyptych, which was dismembered and dispersed to various collections until it was reunited in its present location at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, depicting the Madonna with saints including St. John and St. Francis, comes from this chapel. The figurative style is similar to that of the chapel, whose saints, placed in a neutral context with few decorative elements, remain very solid in their volume.

After completing the Peruzzi Chapel, Giotto probably produced other works in Florence, most of which have been lost, such as the fresco in the main chapel of the Badia Fiorentina, of which some fragments remain, such as the shepherd's head preserved in the Galleria dell'Academia.

In another chapel of Santa Croce, the Bardi Chapel, Giotto's frescoes depict episodes from the Life of St. Francis and figures of Franciscan saints. They were restored in 1852 after a repainting operation in the 18th century. It is interesting to note the stylistic differences with the similar cycle in Assisi dating from more than 20 years earlier, with an almost identical iconography.

Giotto preferred to give greater importance to the human figure, accentuating its expressive values, probably in accordance with the "pauperist" turnaround of the Conventuals at that time. Saint Francis appears unusually beardless in all the stories.

The compositions are very simplified (some speak of the master's "stasi inventiva"): it is the arrangement of the figures that gives an impression of spatial depth, as in the case of the Funeral of Saint Francis. The rendering of emotions, with eloquent gestures, such as those of the brothers who despair before the body lying down, with incredibly realistic gestures and expressions, is particularly remarkable.

The polyptych, dating from 1328, is installed on the altar of the Baroncelli Chapel (sometimes attributed to Taddeo Gaddi). The pinnacle is in the Timken Museum of Art in San Diego (California), while the original frame has been replaced by a 15th century one. The subject represented is the Coronation of the Virgin surrounded by Saints in glory with angel musicians represented on the side panels.

Despite the signature ("Opus Magistri Jocti"), its execution was entrusted mainly to assistants. The scenographic and chromatic taste is accentuated by the use of an infinity of sought-after colors. The depth is on the contrary attenuated: the space is filled with characters with faces and heterogeneous expressions.

Uncertain works referring to this period

Numerous other Giottesque paintings are preserved from this period, often parts of dismembered polyptychs, for which there is always the problem of the autograph, which is never certain.

The question arises in particular for the Crucifix of San Felice in Piazza; the polyptych of Santa Reparata is attributed to the master with the collaboration of Parente di Giotto; the Santo Stefano of the Horne Museum in Florence is probably an autograph work and is considered to be a panel of a single work in two parts: the St. John the Evangelist and St. Lawrence of the Jacquemart-André Museum in Chaalis (France) and the beautiful Madonna and Child of the National Gallery in Washington.

Smaller paintings are also scattered in various museums: The Nativity and Adoration of the Magi from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (similar to the scenes in Assisi and Padua), The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Boston, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum), The Last Supper, the Crucifixion and Descent into Limbo in the Alte Pinakothek, the Deposition in the Villa I Tatti in Florence and the Pentecost (National Gallery, London), which according to the historian Ferdinando Bologna was part of a polyptych that Vasari remembered seeing in Sansepolcro.

Triptych Stefaneschi

The Stefaneschi triptych dates back to 1320 and was commissioned for the high altar of the ancient Vatican basilica by Cardinal Giacomo Stefaneschi, who also commissioned Giotto to decorate the tribune of the apse of the basilica with a cycle of frescoes that was lost during the reconstruction of the 16th century.

In St. Peter's Basilica, Giotto also painted the altarpiece of the high altar, which has been kept in the canons' sacristy since the 16th century. This altarpiece, which has the finesse of a miniature, is painted in tempera on a gold background. It consists of three Gothic panels, finished with pinnacles, and a predella, also in three parts. The large panels are painted on both sides. In the center of the main panel, Christ is enthroned and blessed by eight angels; on the side panels are depicted the Crucifixion of the Apostle Peter and the Decollation of Paul of Tarsus. At the foot of the throne, Cardinal Stefaneschi, dressed as a deacon, assisted by his two patrons, St. James and St. Gaitan, is led by George of Lydda before the Prince of the Apostles, to whom he offers, on his knees, a triptych, an abbreviated figure of Giotto's altarpiece. On the side panels, the apostles Andrew and John, James of Zebedee and Paul are represented on foot. Finally, on the predella, the Virgin Mary, enthroned between two angels, is accompanied by the twelve apostles, standing in various attitudes.

The triptych was designed by the master, but painted by his assistants. It is characterized by a great variety of colors for decorative purposes; the importance of the place for which it was intended made necessary the use of the golden background on which the monumental figures stand out.

According to Vasari, Giotto remained in Rome for six years, but also carried out commissions in many other Italian cities until the papal seat of Avignon. He also cites works that are not by Giotto, but in all cases he describes him as a modern painter, engaged in various fronts and surrounded by many helpers.

Later, Giotto returned to Florence, where he painted the Bardi Chapel.

Stay in Naples

Giorgio Vasari in his book The Lives of the Best Painters, Sculptors and Architects has Giotto undertake many trips, but few are documented. Giotto's journey to southern Italy is confirmed by the archives. At the beginning of 1330, through the intermediary of Charles, Duke of Calabria, King Robert I of Naples called Giotto to Naples, where he remained until 1333 with his large workshop. The king named him "famigliare" and "first painter of the court and of our followers" (January 20, 1330), testifying to the enormous consideration that the painter had already acquired. He also gave him an annual salary.

His work is very well documented (his contract remains very useful to know how the work is distributed with his workshop), but very few of his works are today in Naples: a fragment of a fresco representing the Lamentation over the dead Christ is visible in Santa Chiara and the portraits of Illustrious Men are painted in the concave windows of the chapel of Santa Barbara in Castelnuovo, which due to stylistic differences are attributable to his pupils. Many of them became famous masters in their turn, spreading and renewing his style in the following decades (Parente di Giotto, Maso di Banco, Taddeo Gaddi, Bernardo Daddi). His presence in Naples was important for the training of local painters, such as the maestro Giovanni Barrile, Roberto d'Oderisio and Pietro Orimina.

Only the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, a fresco in a room that was part of the convent of Santa Chiara, can be attributed to him with certainty.

In Florence, his son Francesco acted as his father's attorney, enrolled in the Arte dei Medici e Speziali in 1341.


After 1333, Giotto went to Bologna, where the signed polyptych of the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli survives, on a gold background, with the central compartment depicting the enthroned Virgin and the saints. All the figures are solid, as is common in this last phase of his activity, with strong chiaroscuro draperies, bright colors and a language that brings him closer to the figurative culture of the Po Valley, as in the figure of the Archangel Michael, which recalls the angels of Guariento.

No trace remains of the alleged decoration of the Rocca di Galliera for the papal legate Bertrando del Poggetto, which was destroyed several times by the Bolognese.

Late works

Other erratic pieces can be placed in the last phase of his career, such as the Crucifixion in Strasbourg (Palais Rohan, Strasbourg) and the one in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.

Giotto architect: campanile of the cathedral of Florence

As an architect and sculptor, Giotto left Florence a monument, the campanile of the cathedral. On April 12, 1334, the municipality of Florence honored Giotto with the title of Magnus magister (Great Master), appointed him chief architect (capomaestro) of Santa Maria del Fiore, then called Santa Reparata, and superintendent of public works for the municipality. For this position he received an annual salary of one hundred florins. The cathedral, begun by Arnolfo di Cambio, does not yet have a facade, dome or bell tower. It is probable that Giotto built the first foundations of the facade, and it is to him that the delicate design of the windows in the side aisles must be attributed.

But his major work is the campanile, a square tower with three floors of windows, which rises to the right of the façade, 84 meters high. Decorated to the top with colored marble inlays, enhanced with bas-reliefs and statues, this campanile is a marvel of grace and lightness. The windows, which increase in size from floor to floor, add to its airy slenderness; with the infinite work of their columns, with their lacework of varied marbles, they are perhaps, as the Swiss historian Jacob Christoph Burckhardt rightly observes, the most beautiful work of detail in all of Italian Gothic, but his death in 1337 marked the end of his contribution to this building.

The campanile, in Giotto's mind, was to end with a slender spire, which the master's successors, Andrea Pisano and Francesco Talenti, renounced until 1357. Of the two garlands of bas-reliefs that wind around its base, the first is due, for the composition, and in part even for the execution, to Giotto. He wanted to sum up philosophically all life and all human inventions.


Before 1337, the date of his death, he went to Milan at the request of Azzon Visconti, but the works from this period have all disappeared. However, traces of his presence remain, especially in the influence he exerted on the Lombard painters of the 14th century, as in the Crucifixion in the church of San Gottardo in Corte.

Death in Florence

His last Florentine work, completed by his assistants, is the Podestà Chapel in the Bargello Palace, where he painted a cycle of frescoes, now in a poor state of preservation (due in part to incorrect restorations in the nineteenth century), depicting Stories of the Magdalene and the Last Judgment. In this cycle, the oldest portrait of Dante Alighieri is famous, painted without the traditional crochet nose.

Giotto died in Florence on January 8, 1337 (Villani reports the date of his death at the end of 1336 according to the Florentine calendar) and was buried in Santa Reparata in a solemn ceremony at the expense of the municipality, in the cathedral of which he had been one of the architects.


Vasari, in the chapter dedicated to Giotto in the Lives, refers to him as "painter, sculptor and architect", referring to various building projects. Although this information is also confirmed in fourteenth-century sources, it is only since 1963 that attempts have been made to critically systematize this aspect of his work, thanks to the contributions of Gioseffi. Starting from the hypothesis that the architectures frequently painted in the artist's works could be representations of real buildings, an attempt has been made to find the stylistic characteristics of possible architectural projects by Giotto, untouched by later modifications and additions.

He could be the author of the construction of the church of the Arena in Padua, perhaps the first bridge alla Carraia in Florence and the fortress Augusta in Lucca (now lost). The project most linked, even in name, to Giotto is the campanile of Santa Maria del Fiore. Already mentioned by the anonymous Florentine commentator of the Divine Comedy (circa 1395-1400), it is then mentioned in the Centiloquium of Antonio Pucci, which also attributes the first decorative reliefs to him, by Ghiberti and others, who speak of his design and management of the building site until the first commission. A parchment in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Siena preserves a diagram of the bell tower that some believe to be related to Giotto's original project, a hypothesis however controversial and not accepted by all scholars. Giotto's ideas are based on the example of Arnolfo di Cambio and are marked by a boldness in terms of statics that tends to reduce the thickness of the load-bearing walls.

Ragghiant credits Giotto with the design of Andrea Pisano's early reliefs and others, including the Creation of Adam and Eve, the Work of the Ancestors, the Hunt, Music and the Harvest. Based on a note by Vasari, the design of the monument and reliefs of the tomb of Tarlati in the cathedral of Arezzo have also been attributed to Giotto.

Important works

In his lifetime, Giotto was already a symbolic artist, a cultural myth, the bearer of a consideration that rather increased in the following centuries. The prestige of Dante Alighieri's quote about him: "Cimabue thought himself the master of painting, but today Giotto, in vogue, obscures his fame" is such that, for more than a century, the artist will be the only painter cited as a reference worthy of the Ancients.

Giovanni Villani writes: "He was the most absolute master in the painting of his time, and the one who drew each figure the most and acted with the most naturalness".

For Cennino Cennini: "He changed art from Greek to Latin and reduced it to modern", alluding to the overcoming of Byzantine patterns and the opening towards a representation that introduces the sense of space, volume and color, anticipating the values of the age of humanism.

Berenson considers Giotto to be a clear precursor of the Renaissance. According to his vision, he is the first to dress the pictorial representation of human figures with a realistic corporality, going beyond the Byzantine hieraticism and showing the feelings, realistically expressed in the attitudes and facial features. Moreover, he introduces (or reintroduces after Greco-Roman painting) space in painting by using a perspective not yet evolved, but effective. The architectures painted by Giotto take on a realistic value as concrete inhabitable spaces and no longer symbolic as they were with Cimabue. The characters in his paintings have a psychological connotation and mark the first attempts to secularize painting. All these themes, taken up and developed by Masaccio in the frescoes of the Brancacci Chapel, will thus open the doors to the true Renaissance.

Still according to Berenson, Giotto allows each important figure its full tactile value, avoiding confusing groupings. The construction is architectural, he starts from the clear tones to obtain, from them, easy contrasts. Each line is charged with an intention and contributes to the general intention.

For Daniel Arasse, Giotto's role is essential in the emergence of the human figure. He gives man a historical dimension, with his beauties, his dramas and his possible greatness. In his Arrest of Jesus in the Scrovegni Chapel, he substitutes iconic immobility with monumental majesty, transforming tragedy into drama, into action (Argan). His St. Francis acquires a dignity and a moral authority that make him a historical figure. The characters occupy the front of the space; the architectures, the cities, the landscapes establish the link between the various scenes whose particular istoria determines each time a spatial and perspective composition, assuring thus with effectiveness, the concrete presence of the figure responsible for its action.

Giotto's modernism is found in his representation of freedom, the responsibility assumed by man for his own history. In the gaze exchanged between Christ and Judas in the Arrest of Jesus, two freedoms meet in their contradictory exercise.

His stays in Rome were particularly beneficial to Giotto: they offered him the possibility of comparison with classicism, but also with artists such as the sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio and the painters of the local school, Pietro Cavallini, Jacopo Torriti and Filippo Rusuti, who were driven by the same spirit of innovation and experimentation that they had instilled while working on the building sites of the great basilicas inaugurated by Nicholas III and Nicholas IV.

While Dante Alighieri's thought has a doctrinal structure modeled on the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, Giotto's has an ethical structure that finds its source in St. Francis of Assisi. Giotto's language is Gothic and eliminates what was left of the Byzantine in European Gothic culture. For Giotto, the historical fact is what implements and reveals the divine plan; his way of thinking about history is an ancient and Christian way: for him, the ancient is a historical experience to be invested in the present. The natural, characteristic trait of the artist, is recovered from the ancient thanks to the intellectual process of the historical thought.

His pupil is Giottino, his adopted son. The biological father of Giottino seems to be Stefano Tolomelli. That's why, according to some sources, Giottino signed as Giottino di Stefano. Sources that suggest that Giotto repudiated one of his sons in favor of Giottino, who was more skilled and capable in drawing, remain unfounded.

Giottesque schools and influence

Giotto carried out the numerous commissions with his workshop using a work organization set up according to a logic that would be described today as "entrepreneurial", which organized the coordination of the work of many collaborators. This method, formerly used only on architectural sites and by the workers of the sculptors and stonecutters active in the Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals, is one of the major innovations made in painting by his team, and also explains the difficulty of analyzing and attributing many of his works.

Vasari cites the names of some of his closest collaborators, not all of them famous: Taddeo Gaddi, Puccio Capanna, Ottaviano da Faenza, Guglielmo da Forlì, through whom, adding the work of a mysterious Augustinus, Giotto's influence reached the school of Forlì. To these must be added the many followers of his style who created local schools in the areas where he passed.

In Florence and Tuscany, the so-called "protogiotteschi" are followers who saw Giotto at work in his city: Maso di Banco, Giottino, Bernardo Daddi, the Maestro della Santa Cecilia, the Maestro di Figline, Pacino di Buonaguida, Jacopo del Casentino, Stefano Fiorentino. The biographies of many of these painters are not yet well documented: the life and works of Giottino or Stefano Fiorentino remain largely mysterious.

Daniel Arasse considers Giotto to be the great initiator of modern painting. He gave a new and definitive direction to certain traditions and emphasized the importance of the human figure as an actor in its history. His style was immediately taken up and adapted according to local habits and capacities wherever he worked, whether in Florence, Padua, Assisi or Rome. In Florence, from the 14th century onwards, the school of painting was "giottesque", with each personality pushing further the legacy of the master. In the Trecento, the "giottesques" adapted rather than renewed the master's style: the space became deeper, the environment more familiar, the taste for detail asserted itself, losing the original epic force.

In Umbria, the Giottesque style took on a devotional and popular connotation recognizable in the works of the Maestro di Santa Chiara da Montefalco, the Maestro Expressionista di Santa Chiara, Puccio Capanna and the so-called Maestro colorista.

A school was born in Rimini that had a brief period of splendor with Neri da Rimini, Giuliano da Rimini, Giovanni da Rimini, the Maestro di l'Arengario. Among the authors of interesting works, the master of Tolentino adapts the matrix of Giotto with local influences and, above all, Bolognese, in the frescoes of the Basilica of San Nicola in Tolentino and the Abbey of Pomposa. This Emilia-Romagna school also produced masterpieces in the field of miniature painting.

Giotto's influence then also extended to the northern schools as evidenced by the works, after two generations, of Altichiero da Zevio, Guariento and Giusto de Menabuoi. Giotto's presence in Naples also left a lasting impression, as shown by the works of artists such as Roberto di Oderisio (active in the 1330s and mentioned until 1382), who decorated the Church of the Incoronata with frescoes of aristocratic elegance (detached and preserved in the Basilica of Santa Chiara in Naples).

The relationship between Giotto and the Roman school is not entirely clear, in particular scholars do not agree on whether it was the Romans (Pietro Cavallini, Jacopo Torriti, etc.) who influenced Giotto and the Tuscans, or vice versa. The most recent studies seem to lean more towards the first hypothesis. In any case, artistic activities in Rome declined inexorably after the transfer of the papacy to Avignon in 1309.

In the end, Giotto, with his many travels, was the creator of an "Italian" style in painting, which is used from Milan to Naples, passing through different regions. The influence of Giotto is also present in the authors of other schools, such as the parallel Sienese school, as shown by the architectural parameters of some works, for example those of Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Giotto was also at the origin of the Florentine Renaissance revolution that followed.

Cultural influence

Giotto is the protagonist of a story in the Decameron (the fifth of the sixth day). He is also mentioned in Dante's Purgatorio ( Purgatorio - Canto eleven . ) and in Trecentonovelle by Franco Sacchetti.

Giotto is a popular brand of colored pencils from the company Fabbrica Italiana Lapis ed Affini.


Several literary testimonies, which do not tell us much about Giotto's life, mark the influence of Giotto's work on his contemporaries, among which are Canto XI of Dante's Purgatorio - who was his friend - the short story VI, 5 Decameron by Boccaccio and Vasari's Vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori.

Boccaccio, in a short story in the Decameron, written around 1350, is particularly enthusiastic about Giotto's painting:

"He possessed a genius so powerful that Nature, mother and creator of all things, produced nothing, under the eternal celestial evolutions, that he was not able to reproduce with the stylus, the pen or the brush: reproduction so perfect that, for the eyes, it was no longer a copy, but the model itself. Very often his works have deceived the visual sense, and one has taken for reality what is a painting "

- Boccaccio, The Decameron, Sixth Day, Fifth Novella, Classiques Garnier, 1952, p. 413).

Leonardo da Vinci himself made Giotto a little more than a century after his death (between 1490 and 1500) an essential milestone in the naturalism inherent in the approach of the Renaissance artist. He describes him as a kind of self-taught artist who overturned the pictorial dogmas of his time, opening the way to the intellectual independence of the artist with respect to academics and placing him as the sole intercessor between nature and the viewer:

"That painting declines from age to age and is lost, if painters have no other guide than what has been done before them. The painter will make a work of little value if he takes for guide the works of others, but if he studies according to the creations of nature he will have good results. We see this in the painters who followed the Romans and who always imitated each other, and art always declined from age to age. After them came Giotto of Florence, who was not content to imitate the works of his master Cimabue, having been born in the solitude of the mountains inhabited only by goats and other beasts; this Giotto, therefore, being inclined to this art by his nature, began to draw on the stones the attitudes of the goats that guarded ; and he began to represent all the other animals that were found in that region, so that after much study he surpassed not only all the masters of his time, but also those of many previous centuries. After him, this art declined again, because all imitated what had been done before them, and it went declining from generation to generation, until Tomaso of Florence, called Masaccio, showed by his perfect work that all those who took another guide than nature, master of the masters, were spending vain efforts. I want to say, with regard to our mathematical studies, that those who study only the masters and not the works of nature are, as far as their art is concerned, grandchildren and not sons of nature, mistress of good masters. Oh, what immense folly to blame those who learn only from nature, and do not attend to the masters, disciples of that nature!"

- Leonardo da Vinci, Traité de la peinture, André Chastel, Leonardo da Vinci, Calmann-Lévy, 2003, p. 103).


: document used as a source for the writing of this article.


  1. Giotto
  2. Giotto di Bondone
  3. Luciano Bellosi, Giotto et son héritage artistique, traduit de l'italien par CIEL (Centre international d'études linguistiques), 1 vol. 383 p.
  4. « Giotto »
  5. ^ Pur non essendoci pervenuta una qualche forma di documentazione che ne attesti inequivocabilmente la data di nascita, l'anno è nondimeno desumibile da una verseggiatura del poeta Antonio Pucci sulla Cronica di Giovanni Villani, da ritenersi a parer degli esperti piuttosto attendibile. Un'ipotesi alternativa, per quanto abbastanza minoritaria tra gli studiosi, ne colloca i natali nel 1276, assecondando la cronologia che, nella seconda metà del XVI secolo, offrì il Vasari nella sua biografia dedicata all'artista, la quale però sarebbe da ritenere inattendibile qualora si dia per assodato il fatto che Giotto era almeno ventenne attorno al 1290, quando dipinse le sue prime opere.
  6. ^ Giotto, su URL consultato il 23 febbraio 2016.
  7. ^ a b Brandi, p. 139.
  8. ^ Brandi, p. 309.
  11. 1 2 3
  12. ^ The year of his birth is calculated from the fact that Antonio Pucci, the town crier of Florence, wrote a poem in Giotto's honour in which it is stated that he was 70 at the time of his death. However, the word "seventy" fits into the rhyme of the poem better than any longer and more complex age so it is possible that Pucci used artistic license.[1]

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