GIOTTO di Bondone
(b. 1267, Vespignano, d. 1337, Firenze)


after 1334
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence

In Greek mythology Daedalus stands as a creative worker at the beginning of all art: Daedalus, the inventor of the labyrinth and of flying, is supposed to have been the first successfully to create a sculpture with arms akimbo and parted legs. Since he is thus supposed to have given life to figures for the first time, he is considered as the very first artist.

The design of this relief, though not its execution, derives from Giotto. It shows Daedalus in a striding posture on top of a cupola that acts as a launching pad. All of his energy seems directed towards lifting his heavy, feather-covered body into the air. This concentration of energy corresponds to the energy of Giotto's painted figures.

With one exception, this is the only portrayal of Daedalus to exist between the era of ancient Rome and the age of the Renaissance.