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GIOTTINO (1324-1357)

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Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 34 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GIOTTINO (1324-1357), an early Florentine painter. Vasari is the principal authority in regard to this artist; but it is not by any means easy to bring the details of his narrative into harmony with such facts as can now be verified. It would appear that there was a painter of the name of Tommaso (or Maso) di Stefano II termed Giottino; and the Giottino of Vasari is said to have been born in 1324, and to have died early, of consumption, in 1357,—dates which must be regarded as open to considerable doubt. Stefano, the father of Tommaso, was himself a celebrated painter in the early revival of art; his naturalism was indeed so highly appreciated by contemporaries as to earn him the appellation of " Scimia della Natura " (ape of nature). He, it seems, instructed his son, who, however, applied himself with greater predilection to studying the works of the great Giotto, formed his style on these, and hence was called Giottino. It is even said that Giottino was really the son (others say the great-grandson) of Giotto. To this statement little or no importance can be attached. To Maso di Stefano, or Giottino, Vasari and Ghiberti attribute the frescoes in the chapel of S. Silvestro (or of the Bardi family) in the Florentine church of S. Croce; these represent the miracles of Pope S. Silvestro as narrated in the " Golden Legend," one conspicuous subject being the sealing of the lips of a malignant dragon. These works are animated and firm in drawing, with naturalism carried further than by Giotto. From the evidence of style, some modern connoisseurs assign to the same hand the paintings in the funeral' vault of the Strozzi family, below the Cappella degli Spagnuoli in the church of S. Maria Novella, representing the crucifixion and other subjects. Vasari ascribes also to his Giottino the frescoes of the life of St Nicholas in the lower church of Assisi. This series, however, is not really in that part of the church which Vasari designates, but is in the chapel of the Sacrament; and the works in that chapel are understood to be by Giotto di Stefano, who worked in the second half of the 14th century—very excellent productions of their period. They are much damaged, and the style is hardly similar to that of the Sylvester frescoes. It might hence be inferred that two different men produced the works which are unitedly fathered upon the half-legendary " Giottino," the consumptive youth, solitary and melancholic, but passionately devoted to his art. A large number of other works have been attributed to the same hand; we need only mention an " Apparition of the Virgin to St Bernard," in the Florentine Academy; a lost painting, very popular in its day, commemorating the expulsion, which took place in 1343, of the duke of Athens from Florence; and a marble statue erected on the Florentine campanile. Vasari particularly praises Giottino for well-blended chiaroscuro."
End of Article: GIOTTINO (1324-1357)
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