(1267-1337) Italian painter and architect. His influence on the development of painting in Europe was profound. He broke away from the conventions of International Gothic and introduced a naturalistic style, painting saints as real people, lifelike and expressive; an enhanced sense of volume and space also characterizes his work. He painted cycles of frescoes in churches at Assisi, Florence, and Padua.
Giotto was born in Vespignano, north of Florence. The interior of the Arena Chapel, Padua, was covered by him in a fresco cycle (completed by 1306) illustrating the life of Mary and the life of Jesus. Giotto's figures occupy a definite pictorial space, and there is an unusual emotional intensity and dignity in the presentation of the story. In one of the frescoes he made the Star of Bethlehem appear as a comet; Halley's comet had appeared 1303, just two years before.
From 1334 he was official architect to the city of Florence and from 1335 overseer of works at the cathedral; he designed the campanile, which was completed after his death by Andrea Pisano.
Space probe built by the European Space Agency to study Halley’ s comet. Launched by an Ariane rocket in July 1985, Giotto passed within 600 km/375 mi of the comet’s nucleus on 13 March 1986. On 2 July 1990, it flew 23,000 km/14,000 mi from Earth, which diverted its path to encounter another comet, Grigg-Skjellerup, on 10 July 1992.