He apparently was the son of a blacksmith and born around 1267 in a village near
His first major work may have been 28 frescoes (paintings in wet plaster) in the Basilica of St. Francis in
Around 1305 Giotto began his most significant and undisputed work: painting the interior of Scrovegni Chapel in
Inside the Arena Chapel, Giotto created 37 paintings. One set of 18 depicts scenes from the life of Jesus, another shows scenes from the life of his mother Mary, and one painting, covering the entire western wall, depicts the Last Judgment.
In The Kiss of Judas, Judas stares with malice into the eyes of Jesus, Peter slices off the ear of another man, while dozens clamor for an arrest. In The Lamentation, even the angels cannot contain their grief as they mourn the death of Jesus with his human friends.
In these frescoes Giotto demonstrated his unprecedented creativity. He made the subjects of his paintings fully three-dimensional, gave them clothing that fit naturally, endowed them with postures that differed according to their personality and mood, allowed their faces to express a great range of emotion, and showed them clearly interacting with one another.
Giotto was friends with both Dante and Boccaccio. Dante regarded Giotto as the most important artist of their age and mentions this in his Divine Comedy. Giotto painted a portrait of Dante as a bystander in a biblical scene on a wall of a chapel in the Bargello palace in
Giotto died in January 1337 and was buried in the Basilica de Santa Maria del Fiore (St. Mary of the Flower).
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