Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Renaissance Siena: Art for a City

Neroccio di Bartolomeo Landi (Siena 1447 - 1500)
Saint Catherine of Siena (15th century)
Description: Polychrome wood, detail.
Oratorio di Santa Caterina, Siena

Renaissance Siena: Art for a City is at the National Gallery, London WC2

In a brilliant review in The Times Rachel Campbell-Johnston explains why Siena and Sienese art are important enough subjects to merit a special exhibition at The National Gallery in London.

"This distinct Sienese style, so expressive of spirituality, is the artistic equivalent of a dialect. It remains at the root of the city’s aesthetic throughout the period that this show covers. We may see it adapted and altered as such Renaissance advances as perspective and modelling are introduced; as Siena, in what must have been seen as a great propaganda coup, lures Florence's most famous sculptor, Donatello, to work within its walls; or, under the auspices of the powerful Piccolomini family (who produced not just one but two Popes) plays host to such trophy talents as Raphael. But again and again that innate lyrical elegance, that light dancing touch that sets solid figures swaying, saints leaping on tiptoe, patterned draperies swirling and spidery fingers pointing, infuses these images with an almost frolicsome levity that brings them to what feels more like a spiritual than a physical life. "

Five of the exhibits are:

"Saint Catherine of Siena

As this painted wooden statue of the city’s patron by Neroccio di Bartolomeo leaves Siena for the first time, the spectator can hardly help but be touched by its aura of delicate melancholy

Saint Dorothy and the Infant Christ, by Giorgio Martini

The elegant line and exquisite gilding that convey a spiritual aura merge with the tender observation that watches a woman take the hand of a little toddling child

The Asciano Altarpiece, by Matteo di Giovanni

The dismembered parts of one of the great visionary works of the Quattrocento are brought back together to recapture its atmosphere of otherworldly splendour

The Story of Patient Griselda

The delightfully evocative images of Boccaccio’s story of the exemplary wife Griselda are reunited at the National Gallery for the first time in two centuries

The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Earthly Paradise, by Benvenuto di Giovanni

This tiny but compelling panel captures a powerful and disturbing sense of drama "