Why are Giotto’s painting considered to be important as a turning point towards the Renaissance Style?
Suddenly ,in early 14th century Italy, art changed. Ambrogio Giotto di Bondone ( circa 1257 – 1337) in his many fresco’s heightened the empathy between viewer and story. For example, in his ‘Mocking of Christ, to be seen in the Arena Chapel, Padua, the dramatic scene is depicted in what we now call the Renaissance style which was very different from what had preceded it. He gave art a new beginning and showed his fellow artists the way forward.
There is a legend that he was a shepherd boy and was discovered by the artist Cimabue drawing realistic pictures of sheep on a rock. He managed to break away from the then prevalent Byzantine method of unrealistic figures, often apparently suspended against their background. In order to express himself fully he gave his subjects a sense of mass and reality that had been long lost. Art had , at that time, almost lost any sense of reality. Giotto took the art of painting from the art of ancient Greece with their statues and translated it into the Italy of his day. We see not stylised two dimensional figures but a real sense of three dimensional real people to view in his pictures, but more than that his art style had tremendous influence on the artists who followed him.
He was not only an artist however, but also an architect, sculptor, wit and poet who as stimulated the consciousness of his audience. His treatment of action is so much more realistic than the Byzantine stiffness of standing or seated figures usually only staring straight forward or at 90 degrees to the viewer. He drew accurately from life, something that had almost never been done in the preceding 200 years. For this reason he is considered a great innovator and among the first of Renaissance artists.