Cavallini, Pietro (active 1273-1308). Italian painter and mosaic designer, active mainly in Rome, where he must have been the leading artist of his day. His two major surviving works are mosaics of the Life of the Virgin (Sta Maria in Trastevere, signed and dated 1291) and a fragmentary fresco cycle, the most important part of which is a Last Judgement (Sta Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome).
Photographs by Carol Gerten-Jackson.
In 1308 Cavallini was in Naples serving the Angevin kings, and was probably responsible for the design and possibly some of the execution of a fresco cycle in Sta Maria Donnaregina. Although he is such an obscure figure, Cavallini occupies an important place in the history of Italian painting. He was the first artist to make a significant break with the stylizations of Byzantine art, and his majestic figures have a real sense of weight and three-dimensionality. His work undoubtedly influenced his great contemporary Giotto, whose Last Judgement in the Arena Chapel at Padua features Apostles enthroned exactly as in Cavallini's fresco of the subject.