According to legend, Giotto was the ugliest artist in town, but he was also the greatest illusionist. As a boy, Giotto was able to work under Cimabue, the highly renowned master painter in Florence. Cimabue had seen Giotto scratching images of sheep on a rock, and decided to take him in as an apprentice. The new student was sometimes a bit mischievous, as boys will be, and one day when Cimabue was away Giotto painted a fly on top of one of the master’s paintings. When Cimabue returned, he walked by the painting, saw the fly, and brushed it off. When he returned, the fly was still there and he tried again to remove it with his hand. Then he finally saw that the fly was painted on, and he realized his student apprentice was playing tricks on him!
Giotto was the painter who would change the direction of art. He is considered the first in a series of great artists who would form the Italian Renaissance, abandoning the Byzantine style. In contrast to the imagery before his time, Giotto based his drawings on postures and figures from nature. His magic fly symbolized the transition from the old to the new. He may have been ugly, but he is remembered as an artist who created many works of great beauty.