Fresco on wall, 200- 185 cm. – Scrovegni Chapel, Padua
"Credette Cimabue nella pittura / Tener lo campo, ed ora ha Giotto il grido/ sì, che la fama di colui oscura"
Dante, Divine Comedy
In his "Lives of the artists", Vasari mentioned the following story: in a quiet day, the Florentine painter Cimabue was walking in the countryside when he observed with surprise how a young shepherd, just a little boy, was painting ewes on a rock with a white chalk. When the master asked him about his name, the kid said: "My name is Giotto, and my father is called Bondone"
This story is probably untrue, but it is useful as an introduction to the Art of Giotto di Bondone (1266-1337), the man who revolutionized western Art to the point that many critics consider him, not without reason, the first genius of European painting, praised by his contemporaries Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio. The idea of Art as an expression of human feelings appears for the first time in with works like this, opposed to the hieratic Byzantine tradition. It is enough with observing the dramatic faces of the mothers watching the inevitable death of their children to understand this. Giotto is to the Italian trecento a phenomenon that all tried to follow but nobody was able to reach until the appearance of Fra Angelico and the primitive Flemish masters of the early 15 th Century.
Text by G. Fernández, www.theartwolf.com