|Dates||(Florentine), active about 1312 - 1348|
That a painting should look like physical reality was the revolutionary idea of Giotto di Bondone, who may have been Bernardo Daddi's teacher. As the leading Florentine painter of his generation, Daddi helped to ensure that this idea, which heralded the Renaissance and came to be taken for granted until the modern age, was kept alive. For hundreds of years, Italian painting had been based on the abstractions of Byzantine art, which stressed patterning, flatness, and ethereal-looking people. Daddi's figures, like Giotto's, have bulk and physicality. As in everyday experience, their form is modeled by light that is earthly and real. Still, throughout his career, Daddi retained some elements of Byzantium's legacy of abstraction, choosing its almond-shaped eyes, ornamental patterning, and gold backgrounds.
Like many in Florence's post-Giotto generation, Daddi later was probably influenced by Sienese art, with its gracefulness and tender human relationships. Ivory carvings from France also may have contributed to the lyric sweetness of his art. He rarely painted frescoes. His large workshop specialized in small, devotional panels, which retain a sense of intimacy even when intended for public places. Daddi is recorded as being artistically active between 1312 and 1347, and scholars estimate that he died soon after.