The Polyptych: a milestone in art history
The magnificent altarpiece is a work painted at the peak of the artistic maturity of Pietro Lorenzetti, in which we see his deep connection with the Sienese tradition, but also the fundamental teachings of Giotto, as well as an affinity for the dramatic temperament of the sculptor Giovanni Pisano. A milestone in the artistic journey and the biography of Lorenzetti, the Polyptych was created following his fresco cycle of Stories of the Passion of Christ (pictured above) which he painted in the transept of the Lower Basilica of Assisi – where the painter likely met Guido Tarlati for the first time.
In the Arezzo altarpiece we find clear connections to Lorenzetti’s earlier work in the spatial placement of the figures, which are depicted as portraits facing the double arched windows that frame them, as though they were actual windows. In the central panel that depicts the Madonna and Child, the theme of the silent conversation between mother and son through mere glances – derived from the sculpture of Giovanni Pisano – reaffirms its dramatic force in the anxious grip of the maternal hand which imprints her child’s gown. The scene of the Annunciation, which is spread across a wide and brightly lit space inhabited by the Angel and the Virgin, attests to a new focus on the representation of space, which would later be explored in depth during the Renaissance, through the use of perspective.