Cimabue (c. 1240 - 1302) also known as Bencivieni di Pepo was a Florentine Painter and a creator of mosaics. He was a pioneer in transforming the prevailing art style from a flat and stylized form into one that was more natural with subtle effects such as shading and realistic proportions. His most documented works include a Crucifix in the Basilica di Santa Croce, Maestà in San Francesco at Pisa, and Madonna with Child Enthroned, Four Angels and St. Francis at Assisi. Our pattern set includes these works with some details made into individual patterns and others paintings including The Madonna in Majesty, The Capture of Christ, The Flagellation of Christ, and Madonna di Castelfiorentino.

Patterns Included In This Set:




Madonna Enthroned with the Child


The Flagellation of Christ

Christ Enthroned with Mary and John (detail)

Madonna Enthroned with the Child and Two Angels


The Capture of Christ

Enthroned Madonna with Eight Angels (detail)

Madonna Enthroned with the Child St. Francis (detail)


Crucifix (detail)

Crucifix (detail)

The Madonna in Majesty (detail)


Saint Francis

Madonna di Castelfiorentino

Madonna in Majesty (detail)


Madonna in Majesty (detail)

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Times of transition exist in art as they do in life. New periods of art are marked by innovation, creativity, and individual genius. This was true in the transition between Byzantine styles and Renaissance art. During that time, a man known as Cimabue was credited for introducing realism to the flat art of his day.

Cimabue lived between 1251 and 1302. It is believed he was born in Florence. Unfortunately, not a lot of information survived about the man originally named Bencivieni di Pepo, or as he would be known today, Benvenuto di Giuseppe.

Cimabue was an artist specializing in paint and mosaics. His nickname meant "bullheaded" and his reputation matched this title. Dante, author of the Divine Comedy, mentions Cimabue in the part written about Purgatory. He was listed as being proud. Nevertheless, the pride which he became known for may have attributed to his many accomplishments as an artist and trendsetter. Many great pieces of art from the Middle Ages were anonymous but Cimabue set himself apart because of his "high personal standard of excellence."

To better understand art and history, Cimabue is used as a marker that divides old and new traditions of western European painting. He has been seen as this identifier by art historians since the 14th century. They also assume that his art was influenced by Giunta Pisano and Coppo di Marcovaldo. These artists were both Italo-Byzantine painters. If he was apprenticed by anyone, it may have been Coppo.

Like his biographical information, only a small amount of Cimabue's art work survived. Some of his formal pieces which include crucifixes and altarpieces are around today. Two frescoes exist in the upper church of S. Francesco, Assisi. They include Sta. TrinitÓ Madonna and the Madonna Enthroned with St. Francis. He was often commissioned to complete these works. Keeping to religious subject matter was part of the Byzantine tradition. All the while, Cimabue's work added dramatic elements.

With the introduction of realism, the Byzantine style known to Italy withered away. It seemed Cimabue brought the artistic style to its pinnacle. New perspectives and dramatic undertones completed the style in a way that necessitated a new artistic tradition be born. He broadened the use of space in these types of paintings, as well as sculptural form. His less formal paintings showcased fresh narratives to traditional Byzantine concepts. In addition, his unique style applied to the traditional depiction of the human form was enhanced by his inclusion of nature. Also, it is said that he was one of the first artists to understand the potential of architectural paintings. He used architecture to distinguish location and expound on his realism technique with three-dimensional qualities. These many traits lead some art scholars to claim his name as the premier Florentine painter and the "first painter of 'modern' times."

As Cimabue ushered in a new artistic style, the transition was made complete by one of his students. Giotto was founded by Cimabue at age 10. He ultimately superseded his master by furthering the techniques of three-dimensional illustration and usage of space. After finding the young boy (who had showed potential by drawing a lamb onto a slate using coal), Cimabue traveled with him to Florence where he taught him art.

After Cimabue's death in 1302, Giotto took realism to another level. While Cimabue was credited for initiating the transition of art styles, Giotto has been credited as a true art revolutionist bringing forth the Italian Renaissance period. Actually, Dante includes both artists when writing his part on Purgatory. He says, "In painting Cimabue thought he held the field but now it's Giotto has the cry, so that the other's fame is dimmed."

Nevertheless, Cimabue's art lives on even though very few pieces exist today. He paved the way for other styles to emerge and ushered in the Renaissance era. His unique genius challenged art in a way few other artists have been able to do. The influence of this artist cannot be removed.

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