Bell Tower (Campanile) of the Florence Cathedral

After five years in Naples, Giotto returned to Florence. On 14 April 1334 the city appointed him Master of Municipal Construction Works and of the Cathedral Masons' Guild (capomaestro). Giotto performed this office for three years until his death. His attempts at architectural clarity and his interest in spatial conditions, such as the introduction of a unified viewpoint or the taking into consideration of different types of vaulting, could be found in every piece of painting by Giotto; even the decorative frameworks, which separated and linked the pictures, attest to his great feeling for architecture. So it is not really that remarkable that we find the artist at the end of his life as an architect.

In July 1334 the foundation stone of the campanile of the cathedral was laid - we can assume that the newly appointed capomaestro would have been given overall control of the building work. A sketch attributed to Giotto exists which allows us to see how close the design is to the painted architectural constructions and the frames of the altarpieces.

Only the lower story of the bell tower was realized from this design. There, set in the pink-coloured fields of marble, are figural reliefs, whose order and number were changed by later alterations. The design of the original 21 reliefs very probably came from Giotto. They were executed by Andrea Pisano (1290-1348), Giotto's successor as capomaestro. A most original program is realized in these reliefs. They are divided into three groups of seven and dedicated to the theme of the creative.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 22 minutes):
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina: Missa brevis

Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
Design sketch for the Campanile
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence

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53 Kb

Duomo, Florence

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68 Kb

Duomo, Florence

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232 Kb

after 1334
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence

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129 Kb

Summary of paintings by Giotto
Frescoes in San Francesco, Assisi
Upper Church: Legend of St Francis | New Testament scenes | Lower Church
Frescoes in Arena Chapel, Padua
Life of Joachim | Life of Virgin | Life of Christ | Angels | Heads
Last Judgment | Heads
Vault frescoes | Virtues and Vices | Decorative elements
Frescoes in Santa Croce, Florence
Frescoes in Peruzzi Chapel | Frescoes in Bardi Chapel
Panel paintings
Crucifix | Maestŕ and others | Polyptych panels | Stefaneschi Altarpiece | Baroncelli Polyptych
Miscellaneous works
Navicella mosaic | Campanile of the Florence Cathedral