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1. Late Gothic (in Italy) Synopsis art 162 honors

Renaissance and Baroque Map
Late Gothic Proto-Renaissance in Italy 1250 - 1400

The Late Gothic period in Italy adumbrates the High Renaissance that will be in full bloom in roughly two centuries from the beginning of the 14th century (1300s, the trecento). It was during this era that the transition from a medieval metaphysical vocabulary to forms of humanistic expression reminiscent of Greek classicism slowly gathered force.

A steady growth of a merchant class, with newfound wealth resulting from trading ventures that supplied needed goods to city-states expanding outward from the old walled medieval towns, provided both the impetus and the finances to instigate investigations into science and knowledge. In the Tuscan region of Italy, the artists of the city-state of Florence, even though the bulk of their commissions were associated with the Church and religiously oriented, took the first steps toward an humanistic art emphasizing the temporal human experience of the moment rather than on the eternal realm of the afterlife.

The first distinct break with the past can be seen in the works of Giotto (c. 1266 - 1337). In contradistinction to the Byzantine-influenced, flat and stylized figuration of Giotto's mentor Cimabue (c. 1240 - 1302), Giotto's introduction of perspective space and suggestion of actual figural physical presence opened the door into a renewed conception of representation in humanistic terms. "Giotto...rediscovered the art of creating the illusion of depth on a flat surface." (T-144)- DJB


Altarpiece - painted or sculptured panel behind an altar
Tempera - painting technique using pigment of egg yoke, glue, or casein
Gesso - plaster mixed with binding material used as ground
Foreshortening - method of naturalistic representation where objects extending frontally into the picture plane are "shortened" to reflect the manner in which they are seen by the eye
Sinopia - underpainting or cartoon for fresco
Vasari - Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) Italian Renaissance painter, architect, and critic: Lives...of the Painters...(1550) (R-1049), biographies of Renaissance artists
Predella - base support and narrow ledge on which main portion of altarpiece is seated, can be backing for painting or series of painting separate from altarpiece painting
Dante - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet: The Divine Comedy (1307-1321) (R-248)
Fresco - surface painting within or on plaster finish
Gothic - term applied to style of art and architecture ca. mid-12th - 16th centuries, initally pejorative as believed to be the work of "barbarian" goths
Black Death - epidemics of Bubonic plague which decimated Europe's population in the late quattrocentro
Humanism - new philosophical outlook centered around man's temporal existence rather than man's metaphysical existence
Chiaroscuro - the painting or drawing of forms where depth and space are illustrated contrasting light and shade.
Or San Michele - Medieval church in Florence, site of Quattro Santo Corronati
Guild - organization representing and in charge of a craft(s)


Nicola Pisano, (active 1258 - 78)
Pulpit, Baptistery, Pisa. Marble 15’ high 1259 - 60
detail of The Annunciation & the Nativity

Giovanni Pisano, (c.1250 - c.1320)
Pulpit, Sant’Andrea, Pistoia. Marble 1297- 1301
detail of The Annunciation & the Nativity

Cimabue, Cenni di Pepo (c. 1240 - 1302)
Madonna Enthroned, with Angels and Prophets, Florence, Tempera on panel c. 1280-90

Giotto, Giotto di Bondone (c. 1266 - 1337)
Madonna Enthroned, Tempera on panel, 10’ 8” x 6’ 8” c. 1310
Arena Chapel in Padua (Scrovegni Chapel) 1305 - 06, Frescoes:
Joachim Takes Refuge in the Wilderness, 1305- 06 (Life of Mary)
Meeting of Joachim and Anna, (Life of Mary)
Lamentation, (Passion and Resurrection)
Last Judgment

Duccio, Duccio di Buoninsegna. (active 1278 - 1318)
Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints center panel of the Maesta, from the Cathedral of Siena. tempera on panel 7’ x 13’ 1308 - 11
The Betraying of Jesus, from the back of the Maesta

Simone Martini, (c. 1285 - 1344)
Annunciation, Panel painting, 10’ 1” x 8’ 8 3/4” 1333

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, (c. 1285 - 1348?) (active 1319 - 1348)
Allegory of Good and Bad Government, Sala della Pace, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena 1338 - 39


GIOTTO (Ambrogio Bondone, detto) 1267 - 1337

Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists

Univ. of St. Andrews School of Art History
Art works comparison modules
Compare pulpits by the Pisanos:


"Giotto...rediscovered the art of creating the illusion of depth on a flat surface." (T-144)

Independent sculpture grew in importance as individuals wanted small statues for their homes or to donate to churches. The graceful S-curve pose was a stylistic standard for this period. Private prayer books, called a Book of Hours, were also popular. The Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux, by Jean Pucelle, are executed in grisaille, monochromatic painting in shades of gray with touches of color. The patron was often included in the religious scene. The figures are influenced by sculptural styles, with soft modeling covering elegantly curved figures. Pictorial needlework (Englishwork) was executed as precisely as painting.

Panel painting, especially on altarpieces, was important in Italy. Duccio combined Byzantine and northern Gothic styles for his altarpiece, known as the Maesta, at the Siena Cathedral. In Florence Cimabue executed the Virgin and Child Enthroned, employing Byzantine formulas for the proportions. Giotto, pupil of Cimabue, shared his "concern for spatial volumes, solid forms, and warmly naturalistic human figures" but uses light and shadow to create a sense of spatial depth and modeling. The Arena Chapel at Padua contains a set of frescoes that emplify these sculpturally modeled figures and a sense of depth in the landscape. Sienese painting would eventually lead to developments in Renaissance art.