Giovanni Cimabue, also known as Benvenuto di Giuseppe, was born in Florence (c. 1240) and died in Pisa (c. 1302). His career was described by Giorgio Vasari in the first art history book called “Le Vite” - “Lives of the most excellent painters, sculptors and architects”. Also Dante refers to Cimabue in The Divine Comedy as a painter who was “believed to hold the field in painting” only to be eclipsed by Giotto, the pupil of him.
Cimabue was regarded as the one the most important italian painter working in the Byzantine style, but in front of scenes and shapes relatively flat and highly stylized, he depicted his figures with more life-like proportion and shading. For this reason Cimabue was considered as a pioneer in the naturalism art.
Documentary evidence is insufficient to confirm or deny this estimate of Cimabue's art. The only work that can be proved to be by his hand is a St John forming part of a larger mosaic in Pisa Cathedral (1302), but tradition has tended to attribute to Cimabue many works of outstanding quality from the end of the 13th century, such as the Madonna of Santa Trinità (Uffizi, Florence), a cycle of frescos in the Upper Church of San Francesco in Assisi, and a majestic Crucifix in S.Domenico, Arezzo