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MASTERS IN ART, GIOTTO ***




Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Steven Calwas and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net









AUGUST, 1902 GIOTTO PRICE, 25 CENTS

Masters in Art
A Series of Illustrated Monographs
Issued Monthly

GIOTTO
PART 32 VOLUME 3

Bates and Guild Company
Publishers
144 Congress Street
Boston




MASTERS IN ART
A SERIES OF ILLUSTRATED MONOGRAPHS: ISSUED MONTHLY

PART 32 AUGUST, 1902 VOLUME 3


Giotto
CONTENTS

Plate I. Madonna Enthroned Academy: Florence
Plate II. Allegory of Poverty Lower Church of
St. Francis: Assisi
Plate III. Allegory of Chastity Lower Church of
St. Francis: Assisi
Plate IV. The Nativity Arena Chapel: Padua
Plate V. The Entombment Arena Chapel: Padua
Plate VI. The Resurrection Arena Chapel: Padua
Plate VII. The Death of St. Francis Bardi Chapel, Church
of S. Croce: Florence
Plate VIII. The Birth of St. John the Baptist Peruzzi Chapel, Church
of S. Croce: Florence
Plate IX. The Feast of Herod Peruzzi Chapel, Church
of S. Croce: Florence
Plate X. The Raising of Drusiana Peruzzi Chapel, Church
of S. Croce: Florence
Portrait of Giotto by Paolo Uccello: Louvre, Paris Page 20

The Life of Giotto Page 21
Julia Cartwright

The Art of Giotto Page 27
Criticisms by Vasari, Van Dyke, Colvin, Ruskin,
Symonds, E. H. and E. W. Blashfield, Quilter

The Works of Giotto: Descriptions of the Plates and Page 35
a List of Paintings
Giotto Bibliography Page 39


_Photo-engravings by Folsom & Sunergren: Boston. Press-work
by the Everett Press: Boston._


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_Copyright, 1902, by Bates & Guild Company, Boston_

[Illustration: MASTERS IN ART PLATE I

GIOTTO
MADONNA ENTHRONED
ACADEMY, FLORENCE
]

[Illustration: MASTERS IN ART PLATE II

PHOTOGRAPH BY ALINARI

GIOTTO
ALLEGORY OF POVERTY
LOWER CHURCH OF ST. FRANCIS, ASSISI
]

[Illustration: MASTERS IN ART PLATE III

PHOTOGRAPH BY ALINARI

GIOTTO
ALLEGORY OF CHASTITY
LOWER CHURCH OF ST. FRANCIS, ASSISI
]

[Illustration: MASTERS IN ART PLATE IV

GIOTTO
THE NATIVITY
ARENA CHAPEL, PADUA
]

[Illustration: MASTERS IN ART PLATE V

PHOTOGRAPH BY RAYA

GIOTTO
THE ENTOMBMENT
ARENA CHAPEL, PADUA
]

[Illustration: MASTERS IN ART PLATE VI

PHOTOGRAPH BY RAYA

GIOTTO
THE RESURRECTION
ARENA CHAPEL, PADUA
]

[Illustration: MASTERS IN ART PLATE VII

PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDERSON

GIOTTO
THE DEATH OF ST. FRANCIS
BARDI CHAPEL, CHURCH OF S. CROCE, FLORENCE
]

[Illustration: MASTERS IN ART PLATE VIII

PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDERSON

GIOTTO
THE BIRTH OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST
PERUZZI CHAPEL, CHURCH OF S. CROCE, FLORENCE
]

[Illustration: MASTERS IN ART PLATE IX

PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDERSON

GIOTTO
THE FEAST OF HEROD
PERUZZI CHAPEL, CHURCH OF S. CROCE, FLORENCE
]

[Illustration: MASTERS IN ART PLATE X

PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDERSON

GIOTTO
THE RAISING OF DRUSIANA
PERUZZI CHAPEL, CHURCH OF S. CROCE, FLORENCE
]

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF GIOTTO BY PAOLO UCCELLO LOUVRE, PARIS

This portrait of Giotto was painted in the first half of the fifteenth
century by Paolo Uccello, a Florentine artist. It is a detail of a
picture containing five heads, representing, besides Giotto, Uccello
himself, Donatello, Brunelleschi, and Manetti. Vasari took the
engraving for his biography of Giotto from this likeness, which was
probably based upon some older portrait of the artist. He is here
represented in a red cloak and head covering; and it would seem that
Uccello's brush has somewhat flattered him, for we are told that he
was "singularly ill-favored" in outward appearance.]




Giotto di Bondone

BORN 1266(?): DIED 1337

FLORENTINE SCHOOL


JULIA CARTWRIGHT 'THE PAINTERS OF FLORENCE'

"In a village of Etruria," writes Ghiberti, the oldest historian of the
Florentine Renaissance, "Painting took her rise." In other words, Giotto
di Bondone[1] was born, between 1265 and 1270, at Colle, in the Commune
of Vespignano, a village of the Val Mugello fourteen miles from
Florence. There the boy, who had been called Angiolo, after his
grandfather, and went by the nickname of Angiolotto, or Giotto, kept his
father's flocks on the grassy slopes of the Apennines, and was found one
day by Cimabue, as he rode over the hills, drawing a sheep with a sharp
stone upon a rock. Full of surprise at the child's talent for drawing,
the great painter asked him if he would go back with him to Florence; to
which both the boy and his father, a poor peasant named Bondone, gladly
agreed. Thus, at ten years old, Giotto was taken straight from the
sheepfolds and apprenticed to the first painter in Florence. Such is the
story told by Ghiberti and confirmed by Leonardo da Vinci, who, writing
half a century before Vasari, remarks that Giotto took nature for his
guide, and began by drawing the sheep and goats which he herded on the
rocks.

[Footnote 1: Pronounced Jot´toe dee Bon-doe´nay.]

Another version of the story of Giotto's boyhood is that he was
apprenticed to a wool-merchant of Florence, but that instead of going to
work he spent his time in watching the artists in Cimabue's shop; upon
which his father applied to the master who consented to teach the boy
painting. The natural vivacity and intelligence of the young student
soon made him a favorite in Cimabue's workshop, while his extraordinary
aptitude for drawing became every day more apparent. The legends of his
marvelous skill, the stories of the fly that Cimabue vainly tried to
brush off his picture, of the round O which he drew before the pope's
envoy with one sweep of his pencil, are proofs of the wonder and
admiration which Giotto's attempts to follow nature more closely excited
among his contemporaries. This latter story is told by Vasari as
follows: "The pope sent one of his courtiers to Tuscany to ascertain
what kind of man Giotto might be, and what were his works; that pontiff
then proposing to have certain paintings executed in the Church of St.
Peter. The messenger spoke first with many artists in Siena; then,
having received designs from them, he proceeded to Florence, and
repaired one morning to the workshop where Giotto was occupied with his
labors. He declared the purpose of the pope, and finally requested to
have a drawing that he might send it to his holiness. Giotto, who was
very courteous, took a sheet of paper and a pencil dipped in a red
color, then, resting his elbow on his side to form a sort of compass,
with one turn of the hand he drew a circle, so perfect and exact that it
was a marvel to behold. This done, he turned smiling to the courtier,
saying, 'Here is your drawing.' 'Am I to have nothing more than this?'
inquired the latter, conceiving himself to be jested with. 'That is
enough and to spare,' returned Giotto. 'Send it with the rest, and you
will see if it will not be recognized.' The messenger, unable to obtain
anything more, went away very ill-satisfied and fearing that he had been
fooled. Nevertheless, having despatched the other drawings to the pope
with the names of those who had done them he sent that of Giotto also,
relating the mode in which he had made his circle, without moving his
arm and without compasses; from which the pope, and such of the
courtiers as were well versed in the subject, perceived how far Giotto
surpassed all the other painters of his time."

No doubt the boldness and originality of his genius soon led Giotto to
abandon the purely conventional style of art then in use, and to seek
after a more natural and lifelike form of expression. And early in his
career he was probably influenced by the example of the sculptor
Giovanni Pisano, who was actively engaged on his great works in Tuscany
and Umbria at this time. The earliest examples of Giotto's style that
remain to us are some small panels at Munich; but a larger and
better-known work is the 'Madonna Enthroned,' in the Academy at
Florence, which, although archaic in type, has a vigor and reality that
are wholly wanting in Cimabue's Madonna in the same room. But it is to
Assisi that we must turn for a fuller record of Giotto's training and
development.

Here, in the old Umbrian city where St. Francis had lived and died, was
the great double church which the alms of Christendom had raised above
his burial-place. Unfortunately the records of the Franciscan convent
are silent as to the painters of the frescos which cover its walls, and
neither Cimabue nor Giotto is once mentioned. But Ghiberti, Vasari, and
the later Franciscan historian, Rudolphus, all agree in saying that
Giotto came to Assisi with his master Cimabue and there painted the
lower course of frescos in the nave of the Upper Church....

In 1298 Giotto was invited to Rome by Cardinal Stefaneschi, the pope's
nephew and a generous patron of art. At his bidding Giotto designed the
famous mosaic of the 'Navicella,' or 'Ship of the Church,' which hangs
in the vestibule of St. Peter's. Little trace of the original work now
remains. More worthy of study is the altar-piece which he painted for
the cardinal, and which is still preserved in the sacristy of St.
Peter's.

Pope Boniface, we are told by Vasari, was deeply impressed by Giotto's
merits, and loaded him with honors and rewards; but the frescos which he
was employed to paint in the old basilica of St. Peter's perished long
ago, and the only work of his now remaining in Rome besides the
'Navicella,' is the damaged fresco of Pope Boniface proclaiming the
Jubilee, on a pillar of the Lateran Church. This last painting proves
that Giotto was in Rome during the year 1300, when both his
fellow-citizens Dante and the historian Giovanni Villani were present in
the Eternal City. The poet was an intimate friend of the painter; and,
after his return to Florence, Giotto introduced Dante's portrait in an
altar-piece of 'Paradise' which he painted for the chapel of the Podestà
Palace. But since this chapel was burned down in 1332, and not rebuilt
until after Giotto's death, the fresco of Dante, which was discovered
some years ago on the walls of the present building, must have been
copied by one of his followers from the original painting.

It was probably during an interval of his journey back to Florence, or
on some other visit to Assisi during the next few years, that Giotto
painted his frescos in the Lower Church of St. Francis in that city.
Chief among these are the four great allegories on the vaulted roof
above the high altar, illustrating the meaning of the three monastic
Virtues, Obedience, Chastity, and Poverty, whom, according to the
legend, the saint met walking on the road to Siena in the form of three
fair maidens, and whom he held up to his followers as the sum of
evangelical perfection.

These allegories are not the only works which Giotto executed in the
Lower Church of Assisi. Ghiberti's statement that he painted almost the
whole of the Lower Church is confirmed by Rudolphus, who mentions the
series of frescos of the childhood of Christ and the 'Crucifixion' in
the right transept as being by his hand. In their present ruined
condition it is not easy to distinguish between the work of the master
and that of his assistants; but the whole series bears the stamp of
Giotto's invention.

The next important works which he painted were the frescos in the Arena
Chapel at Padua, built in 1303, by Enrico Scrovegno, who two years later
invited Giotto to decorate the interior with frescos. When Dante visited
Padua, in 1306, he found his friend Giotto living there with his wife,
Madonna Ciutà, and his young family, and was honorably entertained by
the painter in his own house. The poet often watched Giotto at work,
with his children, who were "as ill-favored as himself," playing around,
and wondered how it was that the creations of his brain were so much
fairer than his own offspring. Giotto's small stature and insignificant
appearance seem to have been constantly the subject of his friends'
good-humored jests; and Petrarch and Boccaccio both speak of him as an
instance of rare genius concealed under a plain and ungainly exterior.
But this unattractive appearance was redeemed by a kindly and joyous
nature, a keen sense of humor, and unfailing cheerfulness, which made
him the gayest and most pleasant companion....

The fame which Giotto already enjoyed beyond the walls of Florence was
greatly increased by his works in Padua, and before he left there he
received and executed many commissions. From Padua, Vasari tells us, he
went on to the neighboring city of Verona, where he painted the portrait
of Dante's friend and protector, Can Grande della Scala, as well as
other works in the Franciscan church, and then proceeded to Ferrara and
Ravenna at the invitation of the Este and Polenta princes. All his works
in the cities of North Italy, however, have perished, and it is to
Florence that we must turn for the third and last remaining cycle of his
frescos.

The great Franciscan church of Santa Croce had been erected in the last
years of the thirteenth century, and the proudest Florentine families
hastened to build chapels at their own expense as a mark of their
devotion to the popular saint. Four of these chapels were decorated with
frescos by Giotto's hand, but were all whitewashed in 1714, when Santa
Croce underwent a thorough restoration. The frescos which he painted in
the Guigni and Spinelli chapels have been entirely destroyed; but within
the last fifty years the whitewash has been successfully removed from
the walls of the Bardi and Peruzzi chapels, and the finest of Giotto's
works that remain to us have been brought to light. Here his unrivaled
powers as a great epic painter are revealed, and we realize his intimate
knowledge of human nature and his profound sympathy with every form of
life.

The exact date of these frescos remains uncertain, but they were
probably painted soon after 1320. Recent research has as yet thrown
little light upon the chronology of Giotto's life, and all we can
discover is an occasional notice of the works which he executed, or of
the property which he owned in Florence. Vasari's statement, that he
succeeded to Cimabue's house and shop in the Via del Cocomero, Florence,
is borne out by the will of the Florentine citizen Rinuccio, who, dying
in 1312, describes "the excellent painter Giotto di Bondone" as a
parishioner of Santa Maria Novella, and bequeathes a sum of "five pounds
of small florins" to keep a lamp burning night and day before a crucifix
painted by the said master in the Dominican church.

Of Giotto's eight children, the eldest, Francesco, became a painter, and
when his father was absent from Florence managed the small property
which Giotto had inherited at his old home of Vespignano. The painter's
family lived chiefly at this country home, of which Giotto himself was
very fond; and contemporary writers give us pleasant glimpses of the
great master's excursions to Val Mugello. Boccaccio tells us how one
day, as Giotto and the learned advocate Messer Forese, who, like
himself, was short and insignificant in appearance, were riding out to
Vespignano, they were caught in a shower of rain and forced to borrow
cloaks and hats from the peasants. "Well, Giotto," said the lawyer, as
they trotted back to Florence clad in these old clothes and bespattered
with mud from head to foot, "if a stranger were to meet you now would he
ever suppose that you were the first painter in Florence?" "Certainly he
would," was Giotto's prompt reply, "if beholding your worship he could
imagine for a moment that you had learned your A B C!" And the novelist
Sacchetti relates how the great master rode out to San Gallo one Sunday
afternoon with a party of friends, and how they fell in with a herd of
swine, one of which ran between Giotto's legs and threw him down. "After
all, the pigs are quite right," said the painter as he scrambled to his
feet and shook the dust from his clothes, "when I think how many
thousands of crowns I have earned with their bristles without ever
giving them even a bowl of soup!"

A more serious instance of Giotto's power of satire is to be found in
his song against Voluntary Poverty, in which he not only denounces the
vice and hypocrisy often working beneath the cloak of monastic
perfection, but honestly expresses his own aversion to poverty as a
thing miscalled a virtue. The whole poem is of great interest, coming as
it does from the pen of the chosen painter of the Franciscan Order, and
as showing the independence of Giotto's character.

The extraordinary industry of the man is seen by the long list of
panel-pictures as well as wall-paintings which are mentioned by early
writers. These have fared even worse than his frescos. The picture of
'The Commune' in the great hall of the Podestà Palace, which Vasari
describes as of very beautiful and ingenious invention, the small
tempera painting of the 'Death of the Virgin,' on which Michelangelo
loved to gaze, in the Church of Ognissanti, Florence, the 'Madonna'
which was sent to Petrarch at Avignon, and which he left as his most
precious possession to his friend Francesco di Carrara, have all
perished. One panel, however, described by Vasari, is still in
existence - an altar-piece originally painted for a church in Pisa, and
now in the Louvre.

In 1330 Giotto was invited to Naples by King Robert, who received him
with the highest honor, and issued a decree granting this chosen and
faithful servant all the privileges enjoyed by members of the royal
household. Ghiberti tells us that Giotto painted the hall of King
Robert's palace, and Petrarch alludes in one of his epistles to the
frescos with which he adorned the royal chapel of the Castello dell'
Uovo. "Do not fail," he writes, "to visit the royal chapel, where my
contemporary, Giotto, the greatest painter of his age, has left such
splendid monuments of his pencil and genius." All these works have been
destroyed, and another series of frescos, which he executed in the
Franciscan church of Santa Chiara, were whitewashed in the last century
by order of a Spanish governor, who complained that they made the church
too dark!

King Robert appreciated the painter's company as much as his talent, and
enjoyed the frankness of his speech and ready jest. "Well, Giotto," he
said, as he watched the artist at work one summer day, "if I were you I
would leave off painting while the weather is so hot." "So would I were
I King Robert," was Giotto's prompt reply. Another time the king asked
him to introduce a symbol of his kingdom in a hall containing portraits
of illustrious men, upon which Giotto, without a word, painted a donkey
wearing a saddle embroidered with the royal crown and scepter, pawing
and sniffing at another saddle lying on the ground bearing the same
device. "Such are your subjects," explained the artist, with a sly
allusion to the fickle temper of the Neapolitans. "Every day they seek a
new master."

In 1333 Giotto was still in Naples, and King Robert, it is said,
promised to make him the first man in the realm if he would remain at
his court; but early in the following year he was summoned back to
Florence by the Signory, and, on the twelfth of April, 1334, was
appointed Chief Architect of the State and Master of the Cathedral
Works. Since the death of its architect, Arnolfo, in 1310, the progress
of the cathedral had languished; but now the magistrates declared their
intention of erecting a bell-tower which in height and beauty should
surpass all that the Greeks and Romans had accomplished in the days of
their greatest pride. "For this purpose," the decree runs, "we have
chosen Giotto di Bondone, painter, our great and dear master, since
neither in the city nor in the whole world is there any other to be
found so well fitted for this and similar tasks." Giotto lost no time in
preparing designs for the beautiful Campanile which bears his name; and
on the eighth of July the foundations of the new tower were laid with
great solemnity. Villani describes the imposing processions that were
held and the immense multitudes which attended the ceremony, and adds
that the Superintendent of Works was Maestro Giotto, "our own citizen,
the most sovereign master of painting in his time, and the one who drew
figures and represented action in the most lifelike manner." Giotto
received a salary of one hundred golden florins from the state "for his
excellence and goodness," and was strictly enjoined not to leave
Florence again without the permission of the Signory. In 1335, however,
we hear of him in Milan, whither he had gone by order of the Signory at
the urgent request of their ally Azzo Visconti, Lord of Milan. Here, in
the old ducal palace, Giotto painted a series of frescos of which no
trace now remains, and then hurried back to Florence to resume his work
on the Campanile.

Another invitation reached him from Pope Benedict XII., who offered him
a large salary if he would take up his residence at the papal court at
Avignon. But it was too late; and, as an old chronicler writes, "Heaven
willed that the royal city of Milan should gather the last fruits of
this noble plant." Soon after his return to Florence Giotto fell
suddenly ill, and died on the eighth of January, 1337. He was buried
with great honor in the cathedral.

More than a hundred years later, when Florence had reached the height of
splendor and prosperity under the rule of the Medici, Lorenzo the
Magnificent placed a marble bust on Giotto's tomb, and employed Angelo
Poliziano to compose the Latin epitaph which gave proud utterance to the
veneration in which the great master was held alike by his
contemporaries and by posterity:

"Lo, I am he by whom dead Painting was restored to life; to whose right
hand all was possible; by whom Art became one with Nature. None ever
painted more or better. Do you wonder at yon fair tower which holds the
sacred bells? Know that it was I who bade her rise towards the stars.
For I am Giotto - what need is there to tell of my work? Long as verse
lives, my name shall endure!"




The Art of Giotto


GIORGIO VASARI 'LIVES OF THE PAINTERS'

The gratitude which the masters in painting owe to nature is due, in my
judgment, to the Florentine painter Giotto, seeing that he
alone - although born amidst incapable artists and at a time when all
good methods in art had long been entombed beneath the ruins of
war - yet, by the favor of Heaven, he, I say, alone succeeded in
resuscitating Art, and restoring her to a path that may be called the
true one.


JOHN C. VAN DYKE 'HISTORY OF PAINTING'

It would seem that nothing but self-destruction could come to the
struggling, praying, throat-cutting population that terrorized Italy
during the medieval period. The people were ignorant, the rulers
treacherous, the passions strong; and yet out of the Dark Ages came
light. In the thirteenth century the light grew brighter. The spirit of


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Online LibraryAnonymousMasters in Art, Part 32, v. 3, August, 1902: Giotto → online text (page 1 of 3)