Giotto di Bondone, (1266? - 1337), was a painter, sculptor, architect, and business man in the developing capitalist economy of Florence. He was born, according to Vasari, in Vespignano, near Vicchio di Mugello, fourteen miles to the north of Florence. His greatness was recognised by Dante ( Purgatorio, XI, 4-6) though he implied there that fame was so fickle that someone else would take his place. He was praised for his naturalism by Boccaccio ( Decameron, Day 6, Story 5), and by Cennino Cennini c.1390 for whom Giotto 'translated art from Greek to Latin, and made it modern, and had the most complete skill'( Cennino Cennini, Il Libro dell'Arte ,1.1). Leonardo da Vinci suggested that Giotto was a great painter because he did not merely imitate the works of his master, Cimabue, but being born in the mountains he was guided by nature in his drawing of the animals which surrounded him ( see Richter, The Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci, paragraph 660).
For Vasari it is clear that just as Giotto had superseded Cimabue, and Cimabue had superseded the Byzantine schools, so Giotto in his turn would be superseded by someone else (see Vasari on Giotto). Ruskin shows some traces of Vasari's approach to Giotto in Modern Painters I, but he went on to develop a much more sympathetic understanding of the Byzantine schools of art and architecture, and of the work of Giotto and Cimabue (see Ruskin on Cimabue, Ruskin on Giotto and Ruskin and the Italian School).