IT was at the end of The Mediæval Period--the last quarter of the 13th century--that local schools began to be distinguished.
Of these local schools, Venice and Rome had always preserved separate traditions. North Italy was intimately connected with Venice, though North Italian art from the beginning, whether of Byzantine or Roman origin, was generally impregnated with Lombardic and other northern motives. Siena, more conservative than Florence, held closely to its Byzantine tradition. Umbria was dependent in art upon Siena; and Florence, from being an unimportant town in Mediæval times, by 1300 became the cradle of what was most formative in Italian painting. Other local schools were more or less organically connected with these chief centres, as Pisa and Arezzo, both closely related to Florence.
In Tuscany, led by Florence, the revival was at first less in form than in spirit, under the fresh inspiration of the Franciscan humanism. The Franciscan movement, which vitalised the Christianity of the time by the ideal of the active imitation of Christ and by the return to a simple life, had an enormous awakening power, which showed itself in art. In 1226 S. Francis died, and immediately subjects suggested by his life became the common material for panels and wall-paintings. At Assisi, in the church erected over his tomb, the walls of the lower nave still show very archaic fragments, painted earlier than Margaritone, in which the unknown master seems sincerely moved with the significance of his themes. There are other early pictures inspired by the S. Francis motive which are crude but profoundly felt, and especially certain crucifixes of Tuscany and Umbria,2 which in emotional content indicate a provincial movement interpreting the Franciscan religious passion. A____________________