This style of decoration was not as effective as the earlier ones had been, and, indeed, from about this time glass-painting became less satisfactory than before, from the fact that it had more resemblance to panel-painting, and so lost a part of the individuality which had belonged to it.

Fig 26 Fig. 26.—Painted Window at Konigsfelden.

Wall-paintings were rare in the Gothic period, for its architecture left no good spaces where the pictures could be placed, and so the interior painting of the churches was almost entirely confined to borders and decorative patterns scattered here and there and used with great effect. In Germany and England wall-painting was more used for the decoration of castles, halls, chambers, and chapels; but as a whole mural painting was of little importance at this time in comparison with its earlier days.

About a.d. 1350 panel pictures began to be more numerous, and from this time there are vague accounts of schools of painting at Prague and Cologne, and a few remnants exist which prove that such works were executed in France and Flanders; but I shall pass over what is often called the Transitional Period, by which we mean the time in which new influences were beginning to act, and hereafter I will tell our story by giving accounts of the lives of separate painters; for from about the middle of the thirteenth century it is possible to trace the history of painting through the study of individual artists.

Fig 27 Fig. 27.—Portrait of Cimabue.

Giovanni Cimabue, the first painter of whom I shall tell you, was born in Florence in 1240. He is sometimes called the “Father of Modern Painting,” because he was the first who restored that art to any degree of the beauty to which it had attained before the Dark Ages. The Cimabui were a noble family, and Giovanni was allowed to follow his own taste, and became a painter; he was also skilled in mosaic work, and during the last years of his life held the office of master of the mosaic workers in the Cathedral of Pisa, where some of his own mosaics still remain.

Of his wall-paintings I shall say nothing except to tell you that the finest are in the Upper Church at Assisi, where one sees the first step in the development of the art of Tuscany. But I wish to tell the story of one of his panel pictures, which is very interesting. It is now in the Rucellai Chapel of the Church of Santa Maria Novella, in Florence, and it is only just in me to say that if one of my readers walked through that church and did not know about this picture, it is doubtful if he would stop to look at it—certainly he would not admire it. The story is that when Cimabue was about thirty years old he was busy in painting this picture of the Madonna Enthroned, and he would not allow any one to see what he was doing.

It happened, however, that Charles of Anjou, being on his way to Naples, stopped in Florence, where the nobles did everything in their power for his entertainment. Among other places they took him to the studio of Cimabue, who uncovered his picture for the first time. Many persons then flocked to see it, and were so loud in their joyful expressions of admiration for it that the part of the city in which the studio was has since been called the Borgo Allegri, or the “joyous quarter.”

When the picture was completed the day was celebrated as a festival; a procession was formed; bands of music played joyful airs; the magistrates of Florence honored the occasion with their presence; and the picture was borne in triumph to the church. Cimabue must have been very happy at this great appreciation of his art, and from that time he was famous in all Italy.

Fig 28 Fig. 28.—The Madonna of the Church of Santa Maria Novella.

Another madonna by this master is in the Academy of Florence, and one attributed to him is in the Louvre, in Paris.

Cimabue died about 1302, and was buried in the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore, or the Cathedral of Florence. Above his tomb these words were inscribed: “Cimabue thought himself master of the field of painting. While living, he was so. Now he holds his place among the stars of heaven.”

Other artists who were important in this early time of the revival of painting were Andrea Tafi, a mosaist of Florence, Margaritone of Arezzo, Guido of Siena, and of the same city Duccio, the son of Buoninsegna. This last painter flourished from 1282 to 1320; his altar-piece for the Cathedral of Siena was also carried to its place in solemn procession, with the sound of trumpet, drum, and bell.