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How Did Cimabue Influence His Work?

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Cimabue and his artwork

Cimabue (1240-1302) was a master Florentine painter and mosaicist, who was a pioneer in the artistic movement towards naturalism in his time. Cimabue introduced three-dimensional designs using the Romanesque approach, with Byzantine models and medieval techniques to create his own style, which was soon enough followed by many other artists. He was born with the name of Bencivieni di Pepo, and was probably nicknamed Cimabue, or “Oxhead” because of Cima has the meaning of “head” and bue meaning “ox”, unfortunately, we know very little of his personal life, thus no one is exactly sure why he got the name Cimabue. It is a common error that he was named Giovanni, also he was not noble born as it is an error in many books.
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He developed new methods and styles to represent religious motives. Cimabue was strongly influenced by Byzantine art, although his masters are unknown, it is clear that he tried to follow the styles which were present in the 13th century. He was one of the first artists of his time to leave the traditional stiff Byzantine style and find more beauty in the reality of nature and life, and he represented this naturalism with soft edges and natural outlines, which created a dramatic approach in his religious art. Cimabue worked with egg tempera on panel to create his frescoes or religious murals, and created his artwork with linear perspective. He was hired to create various art pieces for churches and basilicas, however, not everything he made is credited to him, thus art historians could only have a strong idea about the amount of works he actually made. Cimabue created two large crosses, both made out of wood and decorated neatly. The first surviving cross was made around 1260 and the second cross is dated between 1287 and 1288. The earlier Crucifix is located in San Domenico, Arezzo, and it is his only work that could be attributed to a pictorial phase, however, all documentary evidence is lacking. The second work was commissioned by the Franciscan friars of Santa Croce and is built from a complex arrangement of five main and eight ancillary timber boards. These crosses are the first Italian artworks to break from the late medieval Byzantine style and is renowned for its technical innovations and humanistic iconography, thus why Cimabue is considered as a pioneer in art. The monumentality of the cross links it to the Byzantine tradition. If we take a look at crosses from the same century, we can see that many works are made in the exact same way. For example, Giunta Pisano’s Crucifix from 1240 shows Christ's static pose in the same reflective style, the work is overall
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