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I. 727, p. 12); at the sides are the Virgin and the Angel of the Annunciation. 579a. PARTS OF AN ALTAR-PIECE. School of Taddeo Gaddi (Gaddi : 1300-about 1366).
See under 215, p. 67. These three formed the cuspidi of the Baptism of Christ (579, p. 74). In the centre is the Almighty, on the left the Virgin, on the right Isaiah, holding a scroll with the words (in Latin), “ Behold a virgin shall conceive.” 568. THE CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN.
School of Giotto (Giotto: 1276–1337). Giotto-great alike as a painter, a sculptor, and an architect-was the son of a shepherd in the country near Florence. One day when he was drawing a ram of his father's flock with a stone upon a smooth piece of rock, Cimabue (see 565, p. 74) happened to be passing by, and, seeing the lad's natural bent, carried him off to be a painter. Cimabue taught him all he knew, and in time the pupil eclipsed his master. Dante mentions this as an instance of the vanity of Fame : “Cimabue thought to hold the field in painting, but now Giotto has the cry.” But another poet holds
That Cimabue smiled upon the lad
At the first stroke which passed what he could do,
Such sweetness in't. All great men who foreknew
MRS. BROWNING : Casa Guidi Windows. So great was the fame which Giotto acquired by his frescoes in Florence, that in 1298 he was sent for to do some work for the Pope. It was for him that Giotto sent as his testimonial the famous circle drawn with a brush, without compasses. “You may judge my masterhood of craft,” Giotto tells us, “ by seeing that I can draw a circle unerringly.” (Hence the saying, “rounder than the of Giotto.”) Afterwards he worked at Assisi, and at Padua, where Dante visited him. He returned to Florence in 1316, and as architect and sculptor built the famous Giotto's Tower. Later on he visited Lucca and Naples, but died at Florence, where he was buried with great pomp in the Cathedral.
It was Cimabue who first attempted to represent action as well as contemplation. Giotto went farther, and represented the action of daily life. “ Cimabue magnified the Maid ; and Florence rejoiced in her Queen. But it was left for Giotto to make the queenship better beloved, in its sweet humiliation." This picture is not by the master himself, but it is characteristic
- in its greater naturalness and resemblance to human life-of Giotto's work. Cimabue's picture (565, p. 74) is felt in a moment to be archaic beside it. Giotto is thus the first painter of domestic life—the “reconciler of the domestic with the monastic ideal, of household wisdom, labour of love, toil upon earth according to the law of Heaven, with revelation in cave or island, with the endurance of desolate and loveless days, with the repose of folded hands that wait Heaven's time.” The corresponding development in the direction of greater naturalness which Giotto-- himself a country lad brought up amongst the hills and fields-introduced in the art of landscape painting cannot, unfortunately, be illustrated from the National Gallery (see on this point Edinburgh Lectures on Architecture and Painting, p. 153). But a third development—the introduction, namely, of portraiture—is well seen in the Heads of St. John and St. Paul (276, p. 69)—a fragment saved from a wall-painting in the church of S. Maria Novella in Florence, and one of Giotto's latest works. There is no longer a mere adoption of conventional types : Giotto's apostles are individual portraits. “Before Cimabue, no beautiful rendering of human form was possible ; and the rude or formal types of the Lombard and Byzantine, though they would serve in the tumult of the chase, or as the recognised symbols of creed, could not represent personal and domestic character. Faces with goggling eyes and rigid lips might be endured with ready help of imagination, for gods, angels, saints, or hunters
-or for anybody else in scenes of recognised legend; but would not serve for pleasant portraiture of one's own self, or of the incidents of gentle actual life. And even Cimabue did not venture to leave the sphere of conventionally reverenced dignity. He still painted—though beautifully-only the Madonna, and the St. Joseph, and the Christ. These he made living - Florence asked no more: and "Credette Cimabue nella pintura tener lo campo. But Giotto came from the field; and saw with his simple eyes a lowlier worth. And he painted, the Madonna, and St. Joseph, and the Christ, - yes, by all means, if you choose to call them so, but essentially,—Mamma, Papa, and the Baby. And all Italy threw up its cap-'ora ha Giotto il grido: (now Giotto has the cry).” A fourth development which the art of painting owes to Giotto may be well seen in this picture, Notice the pretty passages of colour, as for instance in the dresses of the
angels. “ The Greeks had painted anything anyhow,-gods black, horses red, lips and cheeks white; and when the Etruscan vase expanded into a Cimabue picture, or a Tafi mosaic, still,—except that the Madonna was to have a blue dress, and everything else as much gold on it as could be managed,—there was very little advance in notions of colour. Suddenly Giotto threw aside all the glitter, and all the conventionalism ; and declared that he saw the sky blue, the tablecloth white, and angels, when he dreamed of them, rosy. And he simply founded the schools of colour in Italy” (Mornings in Florence, pt. ii.; see, for further analysis of Giotto's place in the history of art, Giotto and his works in Padua, published by the Arundel Society). 579. THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST. School of Taddeo Gaddi (Gaddi : 1300-about 1366).
See under 215, p. 67. In the centre is John the Baptist, baptizing Christ; on the left St. Peter, on the right St. Paul. In the pictures for the predella (the step on the top of the altar, thus forming the base of the altar-piece) is a saint at either end ; and then, on the left, (1) the angel announcing the Baptist's birth, (2) his birth, (3) his death, (4) Herod's feast, and (5) Herodias with John the Baptist's head in a charger. The picture must have been the work of an inferior scholar ; but it is interesting to notice that this attempt to tell a consecutive story in his picture, as in an epic poem, instead of a fastening on some one turning point in it, as in a drama, is characteristic of early art (see under II. 1188, p. 49). Notice further in the central picture “how designedly the fish in the water are arranged: not in groups, as chance might rule in the actual stream, but in ordered procession. All great artists . . . have shown this especial delight in ordering the relations of self-set details ” (A. H. Macmurdo in Century Guild Hobby Horse, i. 71). 565. THE MADONNA AND CHILD.
Cimabue (1240-1302). The changes which Giovanni Cenni, called Cimabue, the chief founder of the Florentine School, introduced into the art of painting were twofold. In the first place, his pictures show an increase of pictorial skill. He studied when a boy under the Byzantine artists who had been called to Florence to decorate the church of S. Maria Novella, but though he imitated them, he also “improved the art (as Vasari says) and relieved it greatly from their uncouth manner.” This picture is an early one of the master's, and has suffered much from time. Thus in the Madonna's face, which was originally laid in green and painted over thinly, time and restorations have removed this over-painting, and left the green exposed (see also Duccio's II. 566, p. 46). The green and purple of her dress also have changed into a dusky tone; but even so, the advance in pictorial skill may be seen in the shading of the colours, and the attempt to represent the light and dark masses of the drapery, whereas in earlier pictures the painters had been content with flat tints. But the advance made by Cimabue was even more in spirit than in technical skill. He combined the contemplation of the South with the action of the North. He gave the populace of his day something to look at and something to love. His Madonna is still a Mater Dolorosa"Our Lady of Pain," but there is an attempt alike in her and in the child, and in the attendant angels, to substitute for the conventional image of an ideal personage the representation of real humanity. It was this change that explains the story told of one of Cimabue's works, that it was carried in glad procession, with the sound of trumpets, from his house to the church, and that the place was ever afterwards called “ Borgo Allegro" (the joyful quarter)-a name which it bears to this day. “This delight was not merely in the revelation of an art they had not known how to practise ; it was delight in the revelation of a Madonna whom they had not known how to love" (Mornings in Florence, ii. 48). In telling this story, Vasari adds that they had not then seen anything better ;" the rudeness and quaintness which are all that at first sight are now discernible would then, it must be remembered, have been unseen. One may recall the poet's warning—not to,
Because of some stiff draperies and loose joints,
Gaze scorn down from the heights of Raffaelhood
Mrs. BROWNING : Casa Guidi Windows.
581. A GROUP OF SAINTS.
Spinello Aretino (about 1333–1410.) See p. 2. Certainly not an adequate, and perhaps not an authentic, specimen of a master who is better represented by the fragments of fresco in the vestibule of the Gallery. The saints are St. John the Baptist, St. John the Evangelist, and St. James the Greater. 564. THE VIRGIN AND CHILD, WITH SCENES FROM THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS.
Margaritone (1216-1293). Margaritone, famous in his time(like so many of his successors) for painting, sculpture, and architecture alike, was a native of Arezzo, and was “the last of the Italian artists who painted entirely after the Greek (or Byzantine) manner," from which Cimabue and Giotto were the first to depart. This picture being, according to the critics, the most important and characteristic picture of the artist still remaining, should, therefore, be carefully studied by those who are interested in tracing the history of art. Of the Greek manner, in which art was for so many centuries encased, one may notice, first, that there was no attempt to depict things like life. Art, as the phrase goes, was " symbolic," not « representative.” Certain definite symbols, certain definite attitudes, were understood to mean certain things. Just as in earlier Greek painting white flesh, for instance, was taken to denote a woman, black or red flesh a man; so here such and such attitudes were accepted as meaning that the figure in question was the Virgin, and such and such other attitudes that it was the Christ. Secondly, these symbols were all expressive of various dogmas of the Church-of creeds and formulas peculiar to one sect rather than of spiritual truths common to all Christianity.
Both characteristics may be traced in almost every line of this picture. For instance, the humanity of Christ is not yet even hinted at, his divinity alone being insisted upon. Thus the young God is here represented in the form of a man-child; erect, with the assumed dignity of an adult, as he raises his hand to bless the faithful. With his left hand he holds the roll in which are written the names of the faithful saved : it is as a judge that he comes into the world. The Virgin again is here shown as elect of God to be the mother of God : not as the mother of Jesus, the mother of man's highest humanity. She wears on her head the fleur-de-lys coronet, symbol of purity—and the glory, or aureole, around her represents the acrostic symbol of the fish, the Greek word for fish containing the initials of the several Greek words meaning “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour.”