GIOT'TO, or AMBROGIOTTO BORDONE, a great painter, architect, and sculptor, b. in 1276, was the son of a poor shepherd, and passed the earliest years of his life in watch ing flocks in his native Tuscan valley of Vespignano. Here he first essayed to reproduce on a fragment of slate the forms of nature surrounding him, and to the subtle influences of these early associations may be ascribed much of the devotion which Giotto's per fected works evince towards nature in her purest and most winning aspects. One of these simple designs, representing a sheep, having fallen under the notice of Cimabue, the latter became interested in Giotto, and having obtained the consent of the youth's father, received him into his studio. Giotto's intuitive perception of the true in art speedily emancipated him from the conventionalities, although it is true that Cimabue himself had previously taken steps in this direction. In Giotto's paintings, however, we markedly observe, instead of the flat elongated forms and lifeless features of the Byzantine types, figures imbued with the.varied action and expression of nature, and exhibiting besides an ideal elevation and grandeur of character. He first also practiced the art Of grouping with due regard to the sentiment and action of the composition, and gave simplicity and grace to the draping outline; in short, he effected a profound refor mation in the style of art, which from his era assumed its rightful alliance with the beautiful in nature. Giotto was also an eminent architect, and was employed in the execution of the dome of Florence, while from his designs the Campanile (q.v.) was.
built. The beloved friend of Dante, and of all the great souls of his ago, he himself presented a rare union of genius, knowledge, and wit, combined with the utmost equani mity of humor and massive good sense. The restorer of portraiture, his pencil has transmitted to our day the features and personality of his cherished Dante, of Brunette Latiui, Corso Donati, and other celebrities; and in return we find his name enshrined with reverence in all the grand literary works of the times, especial'y in those of Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarca. The works of this illustrious man are too numerous to be recorded here, but we may mention some of the principal. "The Coronation of the. Virgin," in the church of Santa Croce at Florence; "A in the refectory; the famous mosaic, executed at Rome for pope Boniface VIII., named "La Navieella, ' and representing Peter walking on the waves; a wonderful work, which has unhappily severely suffered in the successive repairs it has required; the frescos of the " Seven Sacraments," painted at Naples in the church of the Ineoronata, one of the most perfect. of his works in point of preservation; and the frescos of Assisi, illustrating the life of St. Francis, and innumerable other minor works. Giotto died at Florence in 1336, and was interred in the church of Santa Maria de Fiore, where a marble monument was erected to his honor by Lorenzo de' Medici.