"He made a decisive break with the crude traditional Byzantine style, and brought to life the great art of painting as we know it today, introducing the technique of drawing accurately from life, which had been neglected for more than two hundred years." -Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists
Vasari, states the most compelling quality of Giotto's painting in his biography of the artist - that he brought his paintings to life. His painting of the Lamentation shown below resides in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Veneto, Italy. Giotto presents a revolutionary new way of painting figures. They are no longer the rigid, Byzantine-style icons that appear almost emotionless and flat. Giotto incorporates a 3-dimensional illusion with shading, and depth that is not seen in other paintings of his time. Not only that, but the faces portray emotion. As Vasari would say, he makes the painting shed tears.
Giotto was the first great name in this style of painting. It was the birth of a style that would continue, and evolve into something greater than even Giotto probably could have ever imagined. Vasari was the first to use the term in his Lives, and described it as "a triumph of our time." The word was rinacita, or Renaissance.
Giotto di Bondone
Lamentation (The Mourning of Christ)