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fervour seems at first sight inconsistent with the character of a people who were famed for factious quarrels and delicate living. But “the contradiction is more apparent than real. The people of Siena were highly impressible and emotional, quick to obey the promptings of their passion, whether it took the form of hatred or of love, of spiritual fervour or of carnal violence. The religious feeling was a passion with them, on a par with all the other movements of their quick and mobile temperament.” 2 Sienese art reflects this spirit; it is like the religion of their St. Catherine, rapt and ecstatic. The early Florentine pictures, some of which are hung in this room, are not very dissimilar; but in Siena the same kind of art lasted much longer. In the work, for instance, of Matteo di Giovanni (see 1155, p. 47), there is still the same expression of religious ecstasy, and the same prodigal use of gold in the background, as marked the works of the preceding century; yet he was contemporary with the Florentine Botticelli, who introduced many new motives into art. Matteo was the best Sienese painter of the fifteenth century, and with him the independent school of Siena comes to an end. Girolamo del Pacchia (246, p. 38) betrays the influence of Florence; whilst Il Sodoma (IX. 1144, p. 204), who settled at Siena and had many pupils, was not a native, and shows in his style no affinity with the true Sienese School. Peruzzi (218, p. 40), on the other hand, was a native of Siena, but belongs in his artistic development to the Roman school.
1109. THE MARRIAGE OF THE VIRGIN.
Niccolo Buonacorso (Sienese : 14th century). “Remarkable, amongst other things, for the wonderful elaboration of the gold ornaments on the dresses, and the attempt to give an Oriental character to the scene by the introduction of the palm-tree, the carpet, and the dark-faced player on the kettledrums. It is interesting also for its notes
i See Dante, Inferno xxix. 121. There was, moreover, in Siena a ** Prodigal Club," and a poet of the day wrote a series of sonnets (translated by D. G. Rossetti) “ Unto the blithe and lordly fellowship."
? History of the Renaissance in Italy, by J. A. Symonds, iii. 221, hereafter referred to as Symonds,
from real life in the figure of the child, the faces of some of the spectators in the background, the window-openings with their poles, the figures on the right under the blind, and the flower-pot on the sill on the left” (Monkhouse: The Italian Pre-Raphaelites, 1887, p. 17).1 1113. A LEGENDARY SUBJECT.
Pietro Lorenzetti (Sienese : painted 1305-1340). Probably illustrative of some incident in the life of a saint -of Bishop Sansovino, perhaps, the patron saint of Siena-in which the forces of the Christian and pagan religions were opposed. On one side is a pagan priest bearing a statue, supposed, from the apple in its hand, to be that of Venus. On the other is a Christian bishop engaged in some ecclesiastical function. 247. “ECCE HOMO."
Matteo di Giovanni (Sienese : 1435-1495). Matteo, son of Giovanni di Bartolo, a mercer, was the chief Sienese painter of his time. Some of his best pictures are still to be seen at Siena, and part of the pavement of the Cathedral there was also decorated by him. He afterwards settled at Naples, and was the first, says Lanzi, to excite the painters there to attempt a less antiquated style.
“Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, “Behold the man !'» (Ecce Homo) (St. John xix. 5). In the “glory” around the head are the Latin letters signifying “Jesus Christ of Nazareth;" on the outer edge of the background, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the carth” (Philippians ii. 10). 246. MADONNA AND CHILD.
Girolamo del Pacchia (Sienese : 1477–1535). Pacchia lived at Siena, but studied both at Rome and Florence. This graceful picture at once suggests the influence of Andrea del Sarto (see I. 17, p. 23). 591. THE RAPE OF HELEN. Benozzo Gozzoli (Florentine: 1424-1498). See under 283, p. 42.
The earliest picture in the Gallery which was painted for domestic pleasure, not religious service. One of the earliest
1 Hereafter referred to as Monkhouse.
also in which a classical subject is attempted. It probably formed the cover or end of a box, such as were often given for wedding presents, and was no doubt a commission to the artist for that purpose. Hence the choice of subject—(which has been variously given as the Rape of Helen and the Rape of the Venetian Brides), and the (surely intentional) comic extravagance of the drawing : the bridegroom takes giant's strides in lover's eagerness, and the ships scud along with love to speed them. The ludicrous unreality of the rocks and trees, contrasted with the beautifully painted flowers of the foreground, is very characteristic of the art of the time (cf. 283, p. 42, and 582, p. 47). Rocks, trees, and water are all purely “conventional” still ; and “the most satisfactory work of the period is that which most resembles missal painting, that is to say, which is fullest of beautiful flowers and animals scattered among the landscape, in the old independent way, like the birds upon a screen. The landscape of Benozzo Gozzoli is exquisitely rich in incident of this kind ” (Edinburgh Lectures on Architecture and Painting, pp. 157, 158).
1108. THE VIRGIN ENTHRONED.
Unknown (Early Sienese School).
1139. THE ANNUNCIATION. Duccio (Sienese : about 1260-1340). See under 566, p. 46.
This picture shows us the side of Duccio on which the early School of Siena still adhered to the traditions of Byzantine art. For instance, the Greek method of symbolising light on drapery is seen in the gold lines of Mary's dress, a decorative method which Duccio was the last to use. So, too, in the gold background-which was universal in Byzantine mosaics. This survival may be seen in all the early Sienese pictures in the Gallery. In 1188, for instance, all the landscape background is gold; so in 1140 are all the spaces between the houses; whilst 1113 resembles a brilliant mosaic with gold for its groundwork.
1140. CHRIST HEALING THE BLIND. Duccio (Sienese : about 1260-1340). See under 566, p. 46.
The departure from conventional forms, which was characteristic of Duccio, is conspicuous in this picture. Each of the disciples has an individual character, the entire group representing not conventional forms but living types of men. There is a piece of symbolism in the blind man who has already been healed which should not escape notice. Duccio is not content to represent the bare act of healing, but insists further upon the efficacy of the touch of Him who was the Light of the World, by making the blind man drop the staff of which he has no longer need. There is another piece of symbolism in the gradated scale by which he draws attention to the respective dignities of his characters—Christ being the tallest in the picture, the blind man the shortest (A. H Macmurdo in Century Guild Hobby Horse, 1886, p. 119).
1199. MADONNA AND CHILD.
Unknown (Florentine: 15th Century). On the right is St. John ; on the left an angel with the annunciation lily. Notice that the frame ornamented with modelled stucco forms part of the picture, and is indeed part of the same panel.
218. THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI.
Ascribed to Peruzzi (Florentine : 1481-1537). Baldassare Peruzzi was born at Siena, but lived chiefly at Rome, where he imitated the style of Raphael and Michael Angelo. He was, however, more eminent as an architect than as a painter : he built the famous Villa Farnesina, and on Raphael's death was appointed architectin-ordinary to St. Peter's. It is characteristic of the taste of the time that what Vasari most admired in Peruzzi's buildings was “the decoration of the Loggia (at the Villa Farnesina), painted in perspective to imitate stucco work.” “This is done so perfectly,” he says, “with the colours, that even experienced artists have taken them to be works in relief. I remember that Titian, a most excellent and renowned painter, whom I conducted to see these works, could by no means be persuaded that they were painted, and remained in astonishment when, on changing his point of view, he perceived that they were so."
There is a drawing by Peruzzi of this subject in possession of the National Gallery. Girolamo da Treviso (VII. 623, p. 154) made a copy of it, which is perhaps this work. The figures of the three magi are interesting as having been portraits of Titian, Raphael, and Michael Angelo.
248. THE VISION OF ST. BERNARD. Fra Filippo Lippi (Florentine: about 1406-1469).
See under III. 666, p. 52. “ St. Bernard was remarkable for his devotion to the blessed Virgin ; one of his most celebrated works, the Missus est, was composed in her honour as mother of the Redeemer ; and in eighty sermons from the Song of Solomon he set forth her divine perfection. His health was extremely feeble ; and once, when he was employed in writing his homilies, and was so ill that he could scarcely hold the pen, she graciously appeared to him, and comforted and restored him by her divine presence" (Mrs. Jameson: Legends of the Monastic Orders, p. 152). Notice the peculiar shape of the picture, the upper corners of the square being cut away. The picture was painted (the artist receiving 40 lire, equal now perhaps to £60, for it and another work) to fit a space over the door of the Palazzo della Signoria at Florence. “Have you ever considered, in the early history of painting, how important is the history of the frame-maker ? It is a matter, I assure you, needing your very best consideration, for the frame was made before the picture. The painted window is much, but the aperture it fills was thought of before it. The fresco by Giotto is much, but the vault it adorns was planned first ... and in pointing out to you this fact, I may once for all prove to you the essential unity of the arts” (Ariadne Florentina, $$ 59, 60).
227. ST. JEROME IN THE DESERT.
Cosimo Rosselli (Florentine : 1439-1507). Cosimo Rosselli, the son of a mason, was one of the distinguished painters invited by the Pope to decorate the famous Sistine Chapel. The Pope had offered a prize for the most successful, and Vasari relates that Cosimo, conscious of his inferiority in invention and design to such competitors as Botticelli, Ghirlandajo, Perugino, and Signorelli, " covered his pictures with the finest ultramarine blues, and with a good store of gold, for he had persuaded himself that the Pope, who had very little knowledge of art, would be thereby induced to give him the prize." The other artists laughed, but the Pope was “taken in ” and Cosimo had the last laugh after all.
St. Jerome (A.D. 342-420) who first made the great Eastern book, the Bible, legible in the West, by translating the Hebrew into Latin, was one of the chief saints of the Latin or Western Church, and was a favourite subject in Christian art ; there