G = Giotto


Don’t forget to click on each work of art to see it in all its beauty!

This was a difficult decision since the G’s are heavily populated with Renaissance artists (Ghiberti and Ghirlandio, for example).

Statue_dedicated_to_Giotto- Uffizi_Museum

Statue dedicated to Giotto, Uffizi Museoum

Giotto, Giotto di Bondone (1266/7 –1337), was an Italian painter and architect from Florence in the late Middle Ages. Recent research suggests he was a born in Florence, the son of a blacksmith. Giotto was his real name, probably an abbreviation of Ambrogio (Ambrogiotto). Vasari wrote that Giotto was discovered by the renowned Florentine painter Cimabue , drawing pictures of his sheep on a rock and that Cimabue asked Giotto’s father if he could take the boy as an apprentice. It is not known if Giotto was really Cimabue’s pupil, but Giotto’s early art shares many qualities with Roman paintings and Cimabue was working in Rome in this period.


Madonna Enthrone by Cimabue

St_Francis_Preaching_to_the_Birds, fresco_Assisi

St. Francis Preaching to the Birds

From Rome, Cimabue went to Assisi, where he painted several large frescoes in the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi. Whether or not Giotto assisted in the fresco cycle of the Life of St. Francis in the basilica is hotly disputed. In the absence of documentary evidence to the contrary, every fresco in the church that was not obviously painted by Cimabue has been ascribed to Giotto. Compare St. Francis Preaching to the Birds with the Madonna Enthroned painted by Cimabue. Note that Giotto’s human and animal figures are realistic and the scene clearly shows St. Francis’ gentle spirit.

Arena Chapel

Arena Chapel

Sometime around 1305 Giotto painted a series of frescoes in the Arena

Last Judgment, Arena Chapel

Last Judgment, Arena Chapel

Chapel in Padua, illustrating the lives of Jesus Christ and of the Virgin Mary. The chapel itself is totally unadorned except for Giotto’s painting.

Each wall is arranged in three tiers of narrative frescoes, beginning with scenes from the life of the Virgin, continuing through the Pentecost. The figures show emotional intensity and appear sculptural in

Kiss of Judas

Kiss of Judas

natural space. The panels are noted for their emotional intensity; The Kiss of Judas is especially gripping.

The Mourning of Christ

The Mourning of Christ


Giotto returned to Assisi, where he painted frescoes in the Lower Church and Maddalena Chapel and the style demonstrates developments his work. He moved back and forth from Florence to Rome through 1347, following his commissions and adorning the walls with his luminous frescoes.


Nativity, Lower Chapel, Assisi

Particularly notable during this time is Ognissanti Madonna painted for the Church of the Ognissanti (Church of All Saints in Florence and the Stefaneschi Triptych (1350), now in the Vatican Museum. The latter was done in egg tempera on a panel. Egg tempera is a permanent, fast-drying painting medium consisting of pigment mixed with a water-soluble binder, such as egg yolk; it was the primary method of painting until after 1500, when it was superseded by the invention of oil painting.

Stefaneschi Tryptych, 1330

Stefaneschi Tryptych, 1330

Campanile, Florence

Campanile, Florence

In 1134, Giotto was appointed the chief architect of the Florence Cathedral and designed the bell tower or Campanile. His last known Dante_Alighieri_detail_from_a_fresco_Podesta_Chapel_Bargellowork is the decoration of Podestà Chapel in Florence, where he painted a portrait of Dante Alighieri, with great realism compared to the canonical faces painted by other artists at the time.


Giotto died in January 1337 and according to Vasari, was buried in the cathedral of Florence.

Postscript: During an excavation in the 1970s, bones were discovered close to the location of Giotto’s tomb as given by Vasari. The bones contained a range of chemicals, including arsenic and lead, both commonly found in paint, and were those of a very short man with a very large head, a large hooked nose and one eye more prominent than the other. The bones of the neck indicated that the man spent a lot of time with his head tilted backwards. The front teeth were worn in a way consistent with frequently holding a brush between the teeth. The bones were reburied as Giotto’s, near the grave of Brunelleschi.


10 thoughts on “G = Giotto

  1. Interesting story of what they found in the tomb. Another very talented artist, Noelle.
    Preaching to the Birds, that piece is gorgeous, but of course, if impossible to pick a favorite.

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