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Giotto di BondoneGiotto di Bondone was born in about 1266 in Vespignano, near Florence. His father was a small land farmer. He lived in the decades after the fall of the Roman Empire. He was an outstanding painter, sculptor, and architect, and was recognized as the first genius of art in the Renaissance time period.

It is believed that Cimabue, a well-known Florentine artist, discovered Giotto. In 1280, Giotto began his apprenticeship as a painter; he traveled with Cimabue and his team of artists to the basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.

In 1290 he began painting his series of murals in the Upper Church of Assisi. These murals illustrated the lives of Jesus and Mary. He finished these great artworks in 5 years.

Vasari tells the story of how Pope Boniface VIII sent a messenger to Giotto, asking for a sample of his artwork. Giotto dipped his brush in red and made a perfect circle with one continuous stroke.

When the pope saw it, he "instantly perceived that Giotto surpassed all other painters of his time." In 1302, Giotto went to Padua to paint frescoes for the basilica of St. Anthony and for the Scrovegni Chapel. He finished this work in 1306.

In about 1310 he created the Navicella mosaic for the basilica of St. Peter in Rome.

He is appointed architect of Florence's city walls in 1334. He designed the bell tower, and the foundation was set in July. He did not live to see it completed.

He died on January 8, 1337. Leaving his wife with 8 children, some follow in their father's footsteps, but were not as well known as Giotto.