Giotto ... you are a "myth"!
He was born in Colle di Vespignano in 1267. Bondone, the father, was a small landowner. It is not clear whether Giotto is a diminutive of Ambrogio (Ambrogiotto), of Ruggero, of Biagio (Biagiotto) or is exactly his proper name.
Leaving aside the legends, who want him to paint on stones, to make hyper-realistic flies or perfect freehand circles, remains the admiration for his technical skills in painting.
According to tradition, but without any document of proof, his teacher was Cimabue. It is true that he toured Italy and achieved an epochal revolution in the art of his time, so much so that many books on the history of Italian art start from him and his works.
What do you owe so much celebrity unchanged over time?
We begin to set a touchstone. We are used to considering the artistic movements as "revolutions" with respect to the previous one or towards the "academic style".
Often these "revolutions" have alternated within a few years. Picasso has experienced a dozen… Impressionism, Cubism, Primitivism, Abstractionism, etc.
Giotto was facing to a pictorial style, the Byzantine one, which lasted for a long time 1000 years. Imagine changing the rules of something that has been done that way for 1000 years.
Strictly two-dimensional figures, flat bottom, uniform sign, faces without expression: the mosaics of San Vitale in Ravenna are a classic example of Byzantine art.
Giotto arrives and what is he up to?
The figures become three-dimensional, no longer drawings without thickness, but bodies in the round. Introduces facial expressions: the characters have expressions, express their feelings also helped by hand gestures.
The backgrounds where the human figures are inserted are no longer flat gold colors, but houses, environments, churches: the reality that surrounds us.
Emotions and moods are evident, it is a painting capable of making the humanity of the characters evident.
Innovations and technical devices make the material effects rich. Glossy stucco for the faux marbles, metal parts for the haloes, wooden boards inserted into the wall, use of encaustic and fake relief.
This meager list can give an elementary idea of Giotto's reach for all Italian art.
It is he who laid the first stone of the Italian Renaissance.