“Every painting is a voyage into a sacred harbour.” ~Giotto di Bondone
Giotto di Bondone (pronunciation), or simply Giotto, was an Italian painter and architect from Florence during the Late Middle Ages. He is considered the father of Western painting for his pioneering work in the Proto-Renaissance style.
His career spanned four decades, during which he painted a number of major works, including the frescoes in the Upper and Lower Churches of Assisi, the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (pronunciation), and the Basilica of Santa Croce (pronunciation) in Florence.
In addition to his painting career, Giotto also served as an architect; he designed the Campanile of Florence Cathedral and several other structures.
Giotto was born in Florence around 1266, and his father was a blacksmith named Bondone. Not much is known about his childhood, but he is believed to have started apprenticing with a painter named Cimabue (pronunciation) around 1276. Cimabue was a renowned artist of his time, and Giotto quickly began to surpass him in skill. One story Cimabue liked to tell was that Giotto had painted the image of a fly on one of his panels, and it was so lifelike that Cimabue tried to get rid of the insect. It was even said that Giotto could draw a perfect circle without moving his arm.
Giotto rose to prominence in the early 1280’s with a number of high-profile commissions, including frescoes for the Bargello Palace in Florence and the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. In the Scrovegni Chapel, he painted a series of frescoes depicting the life of the Virgin Mary and the life of Christ. These paintings are considered some of the finest examples of early Renaissance art.
Giotto married Ciuta, the daughter of a Florentine banker, in 1286; the couple had four daughters and four sons.
Giotto continued to make art, taking commissions to paint frescoes in various churches, as well as designing architecture until his death in 1337. He was buried in Florence Cathedral, where a monument to his memory was erected by his son and fellow artist, Simone.
Giotto’s work had a profound impact on the development of Western art; he is widely considered to be the first painter of the Renaissance. His use of perspective and naturalistic details was revolutionary for his time, and paved the way for the artists who would come after him.