Dreams of Gothic and Renaissance
Siennese Painting of the 14th - First Half of the 16th Centuries
25 June, 2002 - 27 January, 2003
The exhibition presents Siennese school of the 14th - first half of the
16th centuries in the Hermitage collection (hall No. 244).
The opening piece is Calvary which shows the starting point of
the 14th century Siennese school. It is believed to be a work of a disciple
of Duccio di Buoninsegni (fl. 1278-1318/19). Duccio is considered the
progenitor of the Siennese school of painting, who adhered to Byzantine
tradition but enriched it with new lyricism and subtlety.
The masterpiece of Simone Martini (ca. 1284-1344), Madonna from
Annunciation, testifies to his predilection for Gothic rather than
Byzantine style. This painter's role in the trecento art of Siena was
as great as the role of Giotto in Florence. His most famous easel painting
is Annunciation of 1333 (Uffizi, Florence). After creating it Simone
Martini left for Avignon where the papal court then obtained. The Hermitage
Madonna was probably painted after the Florentine altarpiece. Martini
used the type of Theotokos Eleusa, the iconographic motif glorifying
the Virgin's humility as her highest virtue; for trecento it was an all-out
novelty. Byzantine tradition was left behind. Gothic refinement shows
itself in the elongated proportions, smooth outlines and aristocratic
images; of all the Siennese masters, Simone was the most organic assimilator
Pietro Lorenzetti (fl. 1306-1348) was the most Florentine master in Siena.
Pietro owes the monumentality of his forms to the influence of Giotto
and Tuscan sculpture. An influence of Simone Martini and Lorenzetti brothers
can be felt in the works of Niccolo di Ser Sozzo (fl. from 1334, died
in 1363). The central piece of his triptych Madonna and Child,
though surviving in a poor condition, impresses by the purity and harmony
of its color, sculptural clarity of its forms and fineness of ornamentation
worth a jeweler's art. The ideal of Simone Martini, blonde madonna with
long narrow eyes, at the hands of Niccolo became more monumental, retaining
the Siennese exquisiteness. The Florentine-style plasticity suggests the
painter's awareness of Giotto's achievement.
Andrea di Vanni, Bartolo di Fredi, Paolo di Giovanni Fei and Taddeo di
Bartolo of the turn of the 14th-15th centuries ushered in the new epoch.
Siennese masters were assimilating Renaissance innovations without abandoning
the splendor, elegance and abundance of gold and beautiful fabrics so
dear to their heart.
One of the best things of Bernardino Fungai (1460-1516) is the cassone
board Magnanimity of Scipio Africanus. Following in the tradition
of wedding case decoration, the master combined three scenes and turned
an episode of Titus Livius' "History of Rome" into a chivalrous
Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, nicknamed Sodoma (1477-1549), belongs to the cohort
of painters of the late 15th - early 16th centuries. Sodoma's influence
on the art of Leonardo da Vinci is visible in the Hermitage Cupid in
The last major Siennese painter was Domenico Beccafumi (1485-1551) during
whose lifetime mannerism was gestating within the art of Renaissance.
Among Beccafumi's best creations of the second decade of the 16th century
is the wonderful retablo Betrothal of St. Catherine of Alexandria.
The Madonna from an Annunciation
Cupid in the Landscape Sodoma (Giovanni Antonio
The Mystical Marriage of St Catherine
Magnanimity of Scipio Africanus