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Between Gothic and Renaissance: the Sienese School from Duccio to Sassetta at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. A.S. Pushkin

29 June 2021
Between Gothic and Renaissance: the Sienese School from Duccio to Sassetta at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. A.S. Pushkin

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts for the first time in Russia so fully shows the art of Siena of the XIII-XV centuries from June 25 - October 3, 2021

Another cross-year project of Russian and Italian museums is dedicated to the art of Siena at the turn of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The exhibition was prepared by the chief researcher of the department of art of old masters of the State Museum of Fine Arts. A.S. Pushkin by Victoria Markova. For many years Siena remained in the shadow of other famous cities of Italy, primarily Florence, which received almost official status as the "cradle of the Renaissance".

Giovanni Di Paolo. "Madonna of Humility". Around 1400-1482. Photo: Pushkin Museum. A.S. Pushkin

Although in 2002 the Hermitage hosted the "Dreams of the Gothic and Renaissance" exhibition dedicated to the painting of Siena from the 14th to the first half of the 16th century, only works from the museum's collection were presented there. The current exposition in Pushkin is the first project of such a scale in Russia, where, along with the works of the Siena school of painting from the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, works from the National Pinakothek in Siena, the State Archives of Siena and the museums of Tuscany are presented.

All of them very rarely leave the permanent exhibitions and are issued from the storerooms to other countries. The Siena school of painting developed during the 13th – 15th centuries at the intersection of Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance influences. Unlike Florence, Siena was dominated not by democratic but by aristocratic tendencies. At this time, the Siena Republic consistently found itself in the orbit of influence of the largest European monarchs - first the Duke of Milan, Giangaleazzo Visconti, then the King of Naples, and then the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Sigismund.

The connections with the Aragonese court in Naples served to introduce Sienese artists to the Milanese and French Gothic styles. At the same time, from the very beginning of its formation, the Sienese school was influenced by Byzantine art. This was most clearly manifested in the works of Duccio di Buoninsegna, the founder of the local artistic tradition, whose activity falls on the turn of the XIII-XIV centuries.

The phenomenon of courtly art around 1400, when a virtually common European artistic language, the so-called International Gothic, was developed, was best embodied in Siena by artists such as Simone Martini, as well as the brothers Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Emphasized decorativeness and luxury combined with the expressiveness of the gesture, as well as the desire for naturalism - these are the characteristic features of this style. The successors of these traditions were Bartolo di Fredi and Taddeo di Bartolo, as well as Paolo di Giovanni Fei. The latter managed to transform the style of Martini and Lorenzetti and take his place as a representative of the Sienese "Gothic Mannerism" of the late 14th century. Siena artists tend to play with angles.

The more the neck is bent, the stronger the tilt of the head, the more expressive the painting seems to them. Works from Siena of that time can be almost unmistakably identified by a special, slanting cut of the eyes (this type comes from Duccio).


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