Who was Cimabue?
Cimabue’s fresco painting
The old style of painting
When Cimabue was learning to paint in the 1260s AD, Italian painters were still copying the style of Byzantine art.
Byzantine art – and early Italian art – always had gold backgrounds and showed saints and angels and Jesus and Mary in very formal, stiff positions, to show how important these figures were, and that they were not like real people. They were flat, with very little effort to show their muscles or the shadows that would make them look real.
Cimabue starts a new style
Cimabue always painted more or less in this Byzantine style. His paintings have gold backgrounds, and the people are very formal and stiff.
But he did these paintings in a new, Italian style, where the people look more like real people. Cimabue did use shadows, and he did show muscles.
Cimabue’s influence on Giotto
Cimabue’s experiments helped the younger Italian painter Giotto (who worked with Cimabue at Assisi). Giotto built on Cimabue’s work to develop an even more naturalistic, realistic style.
When did Cimabue die?
Cimabue died in Florence around 1302 AD, when he was about sixty years old.