Cimabue facts for kids

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Cimabue Trinita Madonna
The Madonna of Santa Trinita hangs in the Uffizi in the same room as a Madonna by Cimabue's pupil Giotto and another by his rival from Siena, Duccio.

Cimabue, (c.1240 - c.1302), was a painter from Florence in Italy who worked in the Late Medieval period. His real name was Cenni di Peppi. He painted large icons in the Byzantine style and was the first great painter in the city of Florence. The only works of art that are known to be definitely by Cimabue are the mosaic of Christ in Majesty in Pisa Cathedral and two very large ruined frescos in the Church of St Francis in Assisi.

The most famous painting that is believed to be by Cimabue is the "Madonna of Santa Trinita" which is an altarpiece that was done for the Church of the Holy Trinity. It is now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. He is also believed to have painted two large crucifixes which hung in the Church of St Domenic in Arezzo and the Church of the Holy Cross (Santa Croce, Florence). The crucifix of Santa Croce was ruined in a flood and is now in the church's museum.

The biographer Giorgio Vasari wrote about Cimabue's life, 250 years after his death. He wrote that one day Cimabue was walking in the country when he saw a little shepherd boy scratching a picture of a sheep onto a rock. The drawing was so good that Cimabue went to the boy's father and begged that he might take the boy as his apprentice and teach him to paint. The boy was Giotto, who became a very famous painter, and who is thought of as the very first painter of the Italian Renaissance. However, many scholars today tend to discount Vasari's claim, citing earlier sources which suggest this was not the case.

Character

Abside della cattedrale di Pisa
Cimabue designed the Christ in Majesty in Pisa Cathedral. It is a mosaic of little gold and coloured tiles.

According to Giorgio Vasari, "Cimabue of Florence was a painter who lived during the author's own time, a nobler man than anyone knew but he was as a result so haughty and proud that if someone pointed out to him any mistake or defect in his work, or if he had noted any himself...he would immediately destroy the work, no matter how precious it might be."

His nickname, Cenni di Pepo, translates as ‘bull-head’, but also possibly as ‘one who crushes the views of others’, from the Latin word cimare, meaning top, shear, and blunt. The conclusion for the second meaning is drawn from similar commentaries on Dante, who was also known "for being contemptuous of criticism".

Legacy

History has long regarded Cimabue as the last of an era that was overshadowed by the Italian Renaissance. As early as 1543, Vasari wrote of Cimabue, "Cimabue was, in one sense, the principal cause of the renewal of painting," with the qualification that, "Giotto truly eclipsed Cimabue's fame just as a great light eclipses a much smaller one."


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