Not much is known about the life of Pietro Lorenzetti. He was born in Siena, circa 1280-1299 and most likely the oldest of the two Lorenzetti brothers, who were both painters.
Most of the biographical information found on the Lorenzetti family focuses on his brother, Ambrogio. The two painters were very different from one another, both in character and in art.
While Ghiberti exalted Ambrogio and completely ignored Pietro, Giorgio Vasari considered Pietro the philosopher, literati and artist of the two siblings. Indeed, Vasari speaks of Pietro in his book, The Lives of Artists, and does not seem to know that Ambrogio and Pietro are in fact brothers.
Most scholars believe Pietro was the older of the two, and that he apprenticed with Simone Martini in Siena. Nothing else is known about his life, other than the trips he took to several Tuscan and Umbrian cities to carry out his artworks. In the first years of the 1300s, it has been proven that he was in Assisi.
After 1315, he went to Florence, where he painted his polyptych and other works in several churches. After Florence, he went to Cortona to paint the Crucifix for the San Marco church. From 1326 to 1329, he returned to Assisi to paint frescos in the San Francesco Basilica.
The narrative series of frescos are comprised of many scenes, including the deposition of Christ, the Resurrection and the Decent to Purgatory. For years, scholars debated over other scenes, claiming that other artists or Pietro’s helpers may have painted some scenes. We do know for certain that he worked with helpers. After 1329, Pietro returned to Siena, and painted a magnificent Nativity. It appears that he died in 1348, probably from the plague, which also killed his brother Ambrogio.
His first most important work was the Polyptych of Saint Humility, executed in Florence. In 1320, the first work officially accredited to Pietro was another Polyptych, commissioned by Archbishop Tarlati for the church of Santa Maria della Pieve in Arezzo. In this work, Pietro is clearly influenced by Duccio di Buonisegna, and the painting appears to be an attempt to bring Sienese and Florentine styles closer.
For the basilica in Assisi, the place where the most important artist of his time had worked, Pietro painted the Passion of Christ, which includes the Deposition from the Cross, considered his most important masterwork by critics. The iconography of Christ is linked to the Sienese school, which was characterized by strong Byzantine influences. The body of Christ is curved, while Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus take the nails from Christ’s feet, underscoring the intensely dramatic moment. The lateral figures located in the corners of the composition are seen from the back, and are inspired by Giotto. All other figures present recall the style of another Sienese contemporary, Giovanni Pisano, the artist who designed the façade of the Siena cathedral.
Although Pietro’s style builds on those of his Sienese school counterparts, this factor does not in any way diminish the greatness and expressiveness of his art.
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If you are visiting Tuscany you cannot miss Florence. The Renaissance city is a treasure trove of art with an astonishing contemporary vibe. Beyond the extraordinary artistic heritage, a testimony to its centuries of civilization, the best way to enjoy Florence is to stroll along the riverside avenues at sunset, or to get lost among the city’s myriad alleyways of the bohemian Oltrarno or the ...Morekeyboard_backspace