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The son of a Tuscan shepherd, Giotto di Bondone rose to become the most important artist of his age, kick-starting the Renaissance with his naturalistic and emotive treatment of medieval Christian iconography. Giotto enjoyed fame never before known to an artist, receiving commissions from princes, kings and Popes, and in doing so raised the status of the artist from that of a mere craftsman to that of a poet or philosopher. Through his immense talent with a brush and his visionary artistic style, Giotto made the vital departure from the Byzantine style of painting that had dominated Christian iconography for close to a thousand years. Instead of following his artistic predecessors, Giotto took nature as his teacher and narrative as his guide, creating a precedent that would be followed by the leading artists of the high Renaissance. For the first time, an artist had developed an individual style, something which would come to epitomise the spirit of artistic endeavour in the centuries to come. Giotto is truly the first great artist in the history of Western art.