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(Giotto di Bondone) (jôt`tō dē bōndô`nā), c.1266–c.1337, Florentine painter and architect. He is noted not only for his own work, but for the lasting impact he had on the course of painting in Europe.


Giotto reputedly was born at Colle, near Florence. According to tradition, he was a pupil of CimabueCimabue, Giovanni
, 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
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. Modern critics also see the influence of the Roman school exemplified by Pietro CavalliniCavallini, Pietro
, c.1250–c.1330, Italian painter and mosaicist. Working in a classical style, he had an important influence on the art of Cimabue and Giotto. His surviving works are frescoes in Santa Cecilia, Rome, and in Santa Maria Donnaregina, Naples.
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 and of the sculptors Nicola and Giovanni PisanoPisano, Nicola
, b. c.1220, d. between 1278 and 1287, major Italian sculptor, believed to have come from Apulia. He founded a new school of sculpture in Italy. His first great work was the marble pulpit for the baptistery in Pisa, completed in 1259.
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. Whatever his training, it is certain that Giotto broke with the formulas of Byzantine painting and gave new life to the art of painting in Italy.

Works of Art

Giotto designed a great number of works, many of which have disappeared. It is thought that he first participated in the decoration of the Upper Church at Assisi. Scenes from the Life of Christ, Legend of St. Francis, and Isaac and Esau have all been credited to Giotto (and questioned). About 1300 he was in Rome, where he executed the mosaic of the Navicella now in St. Peter's. He also worked on frescoes in the Lateran Basilica, which have been lost.

About 1304 he began to design the series of 38 frescoes in the Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel in Padua. These frescoes are among the greatest works of Italian art. The cycle consists of scenes from the Life of the Virgin, Life of Christ, the Last Judgment, and Virtues and Vices. His power of narration is exemplified by such episodes as the Flight into Egypt, Betrayal of Judas, Raising of Lazarus, and Lamentation. In Padua, Giotto also seems to have painted a fresco of the Crucifixion (Church of Sant' Antonio) and may have designed the astrological motifs for the Palazzo della Ragione (now repainted).

Returning to Florence, he decorated two chapels in the Church of Santa Croce; in the Peruzzi Chapel he painted frescoes of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist; in the Bardi Chapel he worked on the magnificent cycle of scenes from the Life of St. Francis. About 1330 Giotto went to Naples. Working in the service of King Robert, he painted a series of famous men in the Castelnuovo and executed works in the palace chapel and monastery of Santa Chiara. Nothing remains of these works or of the Vana Gloria executed later in Milan for Azzo Visconti. Upon the death of Arnolfo di Cambio Giotto became chief architect of the cathedral in Florence. During his last years he designed the campanile next to the cathedral, known as "Giotto's Tower." He is probably also responsible for the design of some of the relief decoration later completed by Andrea Pisano.

Among the panel paintings attributed to Giotto are the Madonna in Glory (Uffizi); an altarpiece created for the Badia (now in the Church of Santa Croce, Florence); a crucifix (Church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence); altarpieces in the Vatican and Bologna galleries; Death of the Virgin and Crucifixion (Berlin); Madonna and Child (National Gall. of Art, Washington, D.C.); and Presentation in the Temple (Gardner Mus., Boston). His Wedding of St. Catherine in the Uffizi was badly damaged in the flood of 1966.

Style and Influence

Compared with the gracefulness of Byzantine forms, Giotto's figures are monumental, even bulky. As he creates figures that are solemn and slow-moving, Giotto builds up a mounting rhythm into a supremely forceful drama. His figures are imbued with a new compassion for the human being, probably inspired by the tenets of the Franciscan order. In his era, Giotto achieved a remarkably convincing representation of space, harmoniously allying figures and background. These effects were not obtained from a system of perspective, but through his own inherent clarity of conception and his ability to give strength and simplicity to his forms. His reforms in painting were carried throughout Italy by his many pupils and followers. Giotto's popularity as a great Florentine and artist is attested in literature by Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Sacchetti, and Villani.


See his paintings ed. by A. Martindale (1969); studies by B. Cole (1977), M. Barasch (1987), and M. and J. Guillaud (1988).

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(jot -oh) An ESA spacecraft launched in July 1985 into Earth orbit from where it was fired into a trajectory that intercepted the path of Halley's comet on Mar. 13, 1986. Giotto was steered deep into the comet's coma to within 600 km of the cometary nucleus. Data was gathered over a period of about 10 hours. Its 10 instruments recorded many images at various wavelengths, measured the composition of the coma and the mass, distribution, and composition of the dust tail, and analyzed the dynamics of the cometary plasma and its interaction with the solar wind. Though damaged by multiple impacts, Giotto continued its mission.

After a period of ‘hibernation’, the spacecraft was retargeted by an Earth flyby so that it would intersect the comet Grigg–Skjellerup on July 12, 1992. It flew by at a distance of 200 km on the antisun side. Dust, gas, and plasma were investigated but the camera that had been so successful at Halley did not operate.

Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006


also known as Giotto di Bondone. ?1267--1337, Florentine painter, who broke away from the stiff linear design of the Byzantine tradition and developed the more dramatic and naturalistic style characteristic of the Renaissance: his work includes cycles of frescoes in Assisi, the Arena Chapel in Padua, and the Church of Santa Croce, Florence
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The upper church, which exhibits the glorious Giotto di Bondone (1266-1337) frescoes depicting the Life of St.
It created the usual panicky stir, but the Italian artist Giotto di Bondone (ca.