Cimabue, original name Bencivieni di Pepo, born before 1251 died 1302, painter and mosaicist, the last great Italian artist in the Byzantine style, which dominated early medieval painting in Italy.
Almost nothing is known of the life of this legendary medieval artist. He worked together with other artists on mosaics, decorating churches in Florence, Rome and Pisa.
He was one of the first great Italian painters to break from the Italo-Byzantine style. While medieval art then was scenes and forms that appeared relatively flat and highly stylized, Cimabue's figures were depicted with more-advanced lifelike proportions and shading than other artists of his time.
Cimabue's character maybe reflected in his name, which can be translated as 'bullheaded'. An anonymous commentator in a work on Dante written in 1333-34 said that Cimabue was so proud and demanding that if others found fault with his work, he would destroy the work, no matter how valuable.
It was in painting the frescoes of the upper and lower churches of St. Frances at Assisi that his major role in the drama of art occurred.
Here he began a work that was completed by young Giotto, has pupil, who was to become the first great painter of the Western world.
The poet Dante wrote:
Cimabue believed that in painting
He held the field, but acclaim for
Giotto is heard
And the fame of the former is obscured.
However, many scholars today tend to discount this claim by citing earlier sources that suggest otherwise.
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