Giotto – Painter and Architect (1267-1337)

Giotto da Bondone was the greatest italian painter before Renaissance. Initiator of a new figurative art style, oriented towards naturalistic and humanistic subjects, in opposition with Byzantine rigidity. He was revolutionary and an inspiration for all the later Italian Renaissance artists. 

Giotto di Bondone

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Giotto di Bondone born in 1267 and died in January 8, 1337 in Florence, simply known as Giotto, he was an Italian painter and architect. He’s believed to have been a pupil of the Florentine painter Cimabue and to have decorated chapels in Assisi, RomePadua, Florence, and Naples with frescoes and panel paintings in tempera. Because little of his life and few of his works are documented, attribution and a stylistic chronology of his paintings remain problematic and often highly speculative.

Giovanni Dupré , Giotto (detail), 1845, Statue in Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Giovanni Dupré , Giotto (detail), 1845, Statue in Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.

image source: by McPig

What were his major works? 

Among the most important works of Giotto there is the Cross of Santa Maria Novella, realized in Florence around 1290, in which the imagine of Christ moves away from iconography. When he goes to Padua he creates a cycle of frescoes for the Scrovegni Chapel in which some saint’s life and the allegories of Vices and Virtues and the Last Judgement are narrated.

Other important works are the Ognissanti Madonna, the frescoes in the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Peruzzi Chapel where the Life of Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist are frescoed and the Life of Saint Francis in the Bardi Chapel.

Hugo De Keersmaecker, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy.

image source: by Prof. Mortel

Giotto was also an appreciated architect, in fact he built the first part of the Bell Tower for the Opera del Duomo, which later took his name. Unfortunately, many of Giotto’s works have been lost or destroyed, while those found are shown in some international museums.

Florence, 1984
Giotto’s Bell Tower, Florence, Italy. 1984

image source: by nathanh100

How can we identify Giotto’s style?

The main subject in Giotto’s works is the human beings, characterized by the expressiveness of their feelings and moods, all this rendered with great realism creating the illusion of space overcoming the Byzantine style. Giotto’s figures are solidly three-dimensional, they seem to come to life due to a close observation of the faces and gestures, even the clothes appears to hang naturally highlighting the shapes and the heaviness of the fabric.

Giotto, Frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, 1303-1305 (42)
Giotto, Frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, 1303-1305

image source: by Prof. Mortel


Giotto was able to involve the viewer in the work, thanks also to the way he arranged the subjects, allowing the viewer to integrate. To focus the attention of the spectators he used horizon linesdiagonal lines and other types of geography.

Kiss of Judas * Giotto di Bondone
Kiss of Judas – Giotto di Bondone

image source: by Carla216


Di Bondone goes against the tradition of his period, substituting the blue for the sky in favor of the gold preferred by Medievalists. His subject’s faces, clothing and hair are characterized by the use of authentic colors such as bold green, orange, yellow and red allowing in this way to communicate emotions.

Giotto, Adoration of the Magi, c. 1305
Giotto, Adoration of the Magi, c. 1305

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Thanks to a careful use of lights and shadows, Giotto has been able to give weight and shape to his subjects, thus transmitting a sense of reality to the viewer. The use of this technique, defined chiaroscuro, made sure that the body parts of the subjects represented were emphasized.

Ognissanti Madonna, The Uffizi Gallery, Florence 2019
Giotto, Ognissanti Madonna (detail) , 1310, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.

image source: by George M. Groutas


Giotto’s work clearly shows the attention he places on human expressions, studied through careful observation of the various emotional states, such as fear, joy, anger, despair and many other. In this way the subjects represented preserve their humanity.

File:Giotto di Bondone Kruzifix ca. 1280 Santa Maria Novella Florenz-1.jpg
Giotto, Cross of Santa Maria Novella (detail), 1290, Florence, Italy.

image source: by Rufus46

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