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(c. 1240 - c. 1302)
Born: Florence, Italy
Style: Gothic Art
Famous Works:
  • Maestà of San Francesco at Pisa (c. 1280)
  • Madonna and Child Enthroned with Eight Angels and Four Prophets (1280)
  • Crucifix (1287-88)
Due to a lack of recorded history, little is known of Cimabue's life. Also known as Bencivieni di Pepo, Cimabue was born in Florence in a time when the Italo-Byzantine style was dominant. Though clearly influenced by the style of his time, Cimabue's work was unconventional in many ways. One important departure from the Italo-Byzantine style was the artist's adoption of naturalism, painting figures that exhibited significantly more life-like characteristics than those of his contemporaries. Cimabue became extremely successful, and was invited to paint not only within Florence, but also is documented to have completed paintings in Pisa, Rome, Arezzo, and Assisi. His arrival in Rome in 1272 marked the new influence of Roman traditions in Florentine arts. It was during this period, circa 1280, that Cimabue began work on what would become one of his most influential projects, the Maestà in the church of San Francesco at Pisa. His schematic renderings were revolutionary in their depiction of weight and in the manner they focused composition. The project was of great importance and the results inspired a new generation of artists, including a young visionary named Giotto, who would commit himself to naturalism and become an early and renowned contributor to the Italian Renaissance. Cimabue's work tested the compositional boundaries of his time, made him one of the most respected artists of his generation, and helped push Italian art towards its renaissance. He died in 1302
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