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03 October 2019

Giotto’s O

The story of Giotto’s O is closely linked to Pope Boniface VIII who, at the beginning of the 14th century, sought an artist he could trust to paint his portrait. To choose this master of art, he decided to send trusted men across the entire peninsula. At the time, Giotto was relishing the fame of his Crucifix at Santa Maria Novella in Florence. And if you have not yet seen this masterpiece, do hurry and enjoy its absolute beauty. This work is the reason he was selected by the Pope, along with a simple circle. The story unfolded thus. Upon meeting the Pope’s trusted envoy, the young painter drew a circle on a single piece of paper to prove his skill. The conversation between the two was just as simple. As was the artist’s temperament. It is said that Giotto had little ability for dialectic. After all, he was none other than a shepherd who had been discovered by the house of Cimabue when they saw some of his drawings on a rock.
- Here is my best painting!
- That is impossible; you must have something better to give me. Do you mock me?
- No, sirrah, I have nothing else to give you. This will please the Pope.
Thus, the circle on the canvas travelled to Rome and the simplicity of the shape, which had been so impertinently drawn, was enough for Boniface VIII to understand the quality of the artist. The Pope's instinct was sound and that was that.