Ambrogio Bondone, welll known as Giotto.
The probable date of birth of Giotto is the year 1267, born at Colle di Vespignano, in Mugello. This idea is derived from a report of the Florentine chronicler Antonio Pucci (aprox. 1348-1388), which places his death in 1337, at the age of seventy. Giotto has worked at: Assisi (Chapel of the Magdalene, Superior Basilica), Rome (called by Pope Bonifacio VIII on the occasion of the Jubilee of the year 1300), Rimini (Tempio Malatesta), Padova (on the picture: Scrovegni Chapel; Palazzo della Ragione), Florence (Majesty of the Church of All Saints or "Maestà di Ognissanti", now at the Uffizi; the decoration of the Peruzzi Chapel in Santa Croce church, Bardi Chapel frescoes in Santa Croce church; master builder at the "Opera di Santa Reparata" - construction yards in Piazza del Duomo - and chief engineer of the municipality of Florence around 1335 - the construction of the Cathedral's bell tower).
Giotto worked also in Naples (at the service of the king Roberto D'Anjou) and Milan. He died at Florence 08 January 1337 at 70 years old.
He has been a disciple of Cimabue, the first artist to break with the Byzantine medieval style of painting; he radically renewed the pictorial tradition. Contemporary of interesting and famous personalities of history like: Dante Alighieri, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Nicola Pisano (the builder of the Pisan Baptistery), Simone Martini and Ambrogio Lorenzetti (Palazzo Pubblico, Siena), Duccio di Buoninsegna (Siena), and even Marco Polo. The design and construction of the Duomo in Florence, the Church of Santa Croce and the Church of Santa Maria Novella (all projected by Arnolfo di Cambio) belong either to the same period of his life.
The first Florentine masterpiece is the Cross of Santa Maria Novella (on the picture), where Giotto begins to show the appearance of a humble and suffering man, the earthly nature, the weight of the body, revolutionary features of art at that time.
The "Madonna di Ognissanti" (on the picture beside) and other Florentine works: The Majesty of All Saints represents Giotto's artistic maturity. It can be seen now in the Uffizi Gallery, where you can compare it with the previous two famous Majesties: one made by Cimabue and the other by Duccio di Buoninsegna, located in the same room of the museum. At the Uffizi Gallery you can also admire another work by Giotto, the Polittico di Badia.
The frescoes of Santa Croce:
The Peruzzi Chapel (on the large picture above): represents the Life of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. Main features: plasticity, use of chiaroscuro (use of light and shade to create dramatic effect in painting), spatial representation, a splendid architecture of the buildings swelled in perspective. The prospective has begun to be introduced into the Italian painting by his teacher, Cimabue. The characters have movement and more expression. In this sequence we see the evolution of Giotto's art evidenced by the monumentality of the characters. The wisdom of Giotto became a competitive reason of inspiration for later artists such as Masaccio and Michelangelo, two centuries later, who copied several of his figures.
The Bardi Chapel (on the large picture above): it narrates episodes from the life of St. Francis and the figures of Franciscan saints. There was a greater emphasis on the human figure, accentuating the expressive values that seem incredibly realistic, the compositions are very simplified and in some cases, the provision of figures is what gives us the sense of spatial depth.
The last years of Giotto's life he passed working as an architect in Florence, as the superintendent of public works of the Municipality. In 1334 he started the foundation work of the Cathedral's Tower, which led to the construction of the bottom with Giotto's bas-reliefs. This made him more famous, since the tower has been given the name of "Campanile di Giotto".
The last Florentine work is the Chapel of the Podestà del Bargello, where there is a cycle of frescoes, now in a poor state of conservation (because of a wrong restoration from the 19th century), which depicts stories of Mary Magdalene and The Judgment. In this cycle appears the oldest known portrait of Dante Alighieri, Giotto's contemporary, painted without the traditional and legendary aquiline nose.
The artistic importance of Giotto, already recognized during his life, was to have surpassed the Byzantine schemes, and to have introduced a sense of space, volume and color, anticipating the innovation of the Renaissance.
Read more detailed information about Giotto's life and artwork on Wikipedia's Giotto website.