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 "