Cimabue, Giovanni

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Cimabue, Giovanni

Cimabue, Giovanni (jōvänˈnē chēmäbo͞oˈā), d. c.1302, Florentine painter, whose real name was Cenni di Pepo or Peppi. The works with which his name is associated constitute a transition in painting from the strictly formalized Byzantine style, hitherto prevalent in Italy, to the freer expression of the 14th cent. Cimabue retained most of the old conventions but introduced greater naturalism in his treatment of figures. He was master of mosaics at the cathedral in Pisa, where a St. John is attributed to him. Other attributions include a fresco, Madonna with Saints and Angels (lower church of St. Francis in Assisi); frescoes representing the four evangelists, scenes from the lives of the Virgin and St. Peter, scenes from the Apocalypse, and the Crucifixion (all in the upper church of St. Francis in Assisi); and Madonna Enthroned (Uffizi). A major work credited to him, a Crucifixion (Santa Croce), was badly damaged in the flood that ravaged Florence in 1966. Cimabue is said to have been the teacher of Giotto.


See M. Chiellini, Cimabue (1988).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cimabue, Giovanni


(real name, Cenni di Peno). Born circa 1240; died circa 1302. Italian painter, representative of the Florentine school of the late 13th century.

Cimabue worked in Assisi, Pisa, and Florence. Despite a number of innovations reminiscent of the work of Cavallini, Cimabue’s art as a whole developed within the framework of Byzantine tradition. Examples of his work are a cycle of frescoes in the Upper Church of St. Francis (c. 1290, Assisi), Crucifix (c. 1285, Uffizi Gallery, Florence), Crucifix and Madonna (1295, Santa Croce Museum, Florence), and the large altarpiece Madonna Enthroned (c. 1285, Uffizi Gallery). Cimabue’s paintings are distinguished by monumentality, compositional symmetry, precision of line, and refinement and decorativeness of palette. There is gold striation on the garments, and two-dimensional and three-dimensional renderings of figures and faces are combined.


Battisti, E. Cimabue. Milan, 1963.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.