Monday, October 1, 2007

Sano di Pietro (1406-1481)

Italian painter, Sienese school (b. 1406, Siena, d. 1481, Siena). Siena is situated on three gently swelling hills. The Public Library was donated by Archdeacon Bandini (1663). The Academy of Fine Arts, the Museum of the Cathedral, and the different churches of the city, illustrate almost completely the history of art in Siena; in no other city had art, especially painting, a more local character, and nowhere else did it remain so conservative. Gothic architecture produced here its most excellent monuments, both ecclesiastical and in civic buildings; and the Sienese architects laboured beyond the confines of their state (e.g. the cathedral of Orvieto). Sculpture received its first impulse from Nicolo and Giovanni Pisani, whose Sienese disciples carved the decorations of the facade of Orvieto cathedral. The most renowned sculptors of the fifteenth century were Jacopo della Quercia (1374-1438), one of the pioneers of the Renaissance; Lorenzo di Pietro; Antonio Federighi; Francesco di Giorgio (also an architect); Giacomo Cozzarelli; and Lorenzo Mariano. Sculpture in wood is represented by the brothers Antonio and Giovanni Barili, Bartolomeo Neroni, and others. In painting Siena possessed in Duccio an artist who greatly surpassed his contemporary Cimabue of Florence, both for grace and in accuracy of design. Nevertheless, art developed and was perfected in Florence more rapidly than in Siena. Simone Martini (1285-1344), immortalized by Petrarca, and a citizen of Siena, bears comparison with Giotto. Lippo Memmi (also a miniaturist), Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti, imitated with facility the grandiose composition of the school of Giotto. But Bertolo di Fredi (1330-1410); Taddeo de Bartolo (1360-1422); and the fifteenth century painters, Domenico di Bartolo, Sano di Pietro, Vecchietta, Matteo, and Benvenuto di Giovanni, compared with the Florentines, seem almost medieval. Siena therefore turned anew to Florentine, Lombard, or Venetian painters, under whom the ancient fame of the city revived, especially in the works of Bernardino Fungai, Girolamo della Pacchia, and others. The most renowned representatives of the Renaissance in Siena are Baldassare Peruzzi, better known as the architect of the Basilica of San Pietro, Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, and Il Sodoma (1477-1549), a rival of Raphael. With Domenico Beccafumi (1486-1551) begins the decadence. In the nineteenth century Paolo Franchi founded a school of painters closely related to the "Nazarenes" (a group of German painters of the early nineteenth century, who imitated the Italians of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries); the chapel of the Istituto di Santa Teresa gives a good idea of their art.

The cathedral of Siena is said to occupy the site of a temple of Minerva. The present building was begun in the early thirteenth century; the cupola was finished in 1464. But in 1339 it was decided to so enlarge the cathedral that the area then occupied by the nave should form the transepts of the new building. In fact the construction of the longitudinal nave, now in part incorporated in the Opera del Duomo, was actually commenced. Though the pestilence of 1348 compelled the citizens to desist from this plan, they determined to complete in a worthy manner the original design. As it stands the building is about 292 ft. long and 80 ft. wide - 168 ft. in the transepts. The facade is decorated with bands of red, white, and black marble, tricuspidal, and richly adorned with sculptures (restored in 1869) and with mosaics (renewed in 1878). In the interior the pavement is of admirable marble mosaic - the work of masters of the fifteenth century, which has been for the most part renewed. The pulpit, entirely in relief, is the work of Nicolo Pisano and his pupils; the high altar is by Petruzzi, the bronze tabernacle by Vecchietta, and the carvings of the choir by the brothers Barili. The chapel of San Giovanni contains a statue of the saint by Donatello, besides statues by other sculptors, and frescoes by Pinturicchio. Scattered through the interior of the cathedral are statues of Sienese popes and the tombs of the bishops of Siena. The library of the cathedral possesses ancient choir-books and other manuscripts, and is adorned throughout with frescoes by Pinturicchio representing scenes from the life of Pius II - the gift of Pius III. In the centre of the library is the celebrated group of the Three Graces, presented by Pius II. In the Opera dei Duomo are preserved the remains of the exterior sculptures and of the pavement of the cathedral, as well as paintings and sacred tapestries. In the Hospital of Sta Maria della Scala (thirteenth century) the church and the pellegrinaro (a large sick room) with frescoes by Domenico di Bartolo are noteworthy; San Agostino possesses pictures and frescoes by Perugino, Sodoma, Matteo di Giovanni, and others. Beneath the choir of the cathedral is the ancient baptistery, now the parish Church of San Giovanni, with its remarkable font, ornamented with sculptures by Quercia, Donatello, and Ghiberti. In Santa Maria del Carmine the cloisters and the Chapel of the Sacrament are particularly interesting. The Oratory of San Bernardino contains works of the principal Sienese artists, especially of Sodoma and Beccafumi. The house of St. Catherine of Siena (Benineasa) has been transformed into a number of chapels, which centuries have vied in adorning. San Domenico (1293) possesses pictures by Sodoma, Fungai, Vanni, and others, and a tabernacle by Benedetto da Maiano. The little church of Fonteguista has frescoes by Fungai, Petruzzi, and Lorenzo di Mariano. Scattered throughout the other churches are works of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Outside of the city is the Convento dell' Osservanza, with majolicas by Andrea della Robbia and paintings by Sodoma, Sano di Pietro, Taddeo Bartolo, and others; here also are shown the cell of St Bernardino of Siena, and the tomb of Pandolfo Petrucci. More distant from Siena are the Certosa di Pontignano, the Abbey of Sant' Eugenio (730), and the monastery of San Galgano (1201).
- Malaspina Biography

Books from Alibris: Sienese School

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