Artist’s best friend

Curious Florence

Rose Mackworth-Young
February 27, 2014

With your back to the Baptistery, look closely at the lowest frieze on the bell tower, at the relief depicting a shepherd and his dog tending a flock of sheep. According to legend, this is not just any dog: it is Giotto’s childhood companion. The dog would watch the flock of sheep while Giotto would draw (in fact, it is said that Cimabue himself passed by on horseback one day and paused to admire the boy’s work). Giotto never forgot his faithful dog, immortalising him in marble when, decades later, he was given responsibility for the design of Florence’s bell tower.

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