Active from the 13th to 15th centuries and considered an influence on the pre-Renaissance movement, the Sienese School of painting is identifiable by its themes—always religious, and usually with a focus on Biblical miracles—and its signature style, a dreamy mix of Roman, Gothic, and Byzantine influences that often feature dazzling gold backgrounds. Opened in 1932, this museum boasts one of the world’s largest collections of Sienese School works, as well as a number of Renaissance and late-medieval pieces from Italian artists. Wander through the impressive building—a combination of two 14th- and 15th-century noblemen’s palazzi—to find works like Duccio’s Madonna and Child, Michelino da Besozzo’s Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine (celebrating the “calling” of Siena’s native daughter), and Bartolo di Fredi’s expansive Adoration of the Magi. Paired with a visit to Florence’s Uffizi, coming here offers insight into the differences—and longtime rivalry—between the two cities.
The "Uffizi" of Siena
A unique privilege to us, men and women of the 21st century: to walk across centuries of art history of a local school of painting, that of the Sienese, simply moving from one room to the another. This is what I think each time I visit the Pinacoteca and what I had in mind while a friend of mine, Bruno Lambiase, made me this picture without my noticing during #invasionidigitali. Yes, you can take pictures here for an extracharge of 1 euro. The visit of the Pinacoteca starts from the second floor with the oldest work, the Redentore Benedicente by Maestro di Tressa (1215), which introduces to the later works of the most known names such as Duccio di Buoninsegna, Simone Martini, Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti, the Sassetta, the Vecchietta and others. The details of the narrative scenes which want to represent the reality are very funny without notions of perspective! On the first floor continues the chronological order of the works with Beccafumi, Sodoma, Francesco Vanni, Ventura Salimbeni and others. A new style thanks to the perspective and a new use of the colors. Do not miss the room #26 which has a spectacular view over Siena. On the third floor of the Pinacoteca finally there is the Collezione Spannocchi in which stand out works of Dürer, Lorenzo Lotto, Cavalier d’Arpino and some portraits by Flemish artists that I love. Last but not least there is a free Wi-Fi connection, which allows you to surf the online guide of the Pinacoteca during your visit.
Sienese Gold Made into Paintings
During my trip in Siena, I accidentally came across the Pinacoteca Nazionale and was pleased to learn it’s the museum with the largest collection of gold in Sienese 14th and 15th century paintings. The photo shows the Diptych of St. Claire by Guido da Siena, but my favorite was Giovanni da Paolo’s Assumption of Virgin with Four Saints (unfortunately, I didn’t get a good picture).