Pietro Lorenzetti

“Eccellente pittore sanese” (Vasari 1568)

Pietro Lorenzetti (circa 1280 – 1348) studied with Duccio di Buoninsegna in Siena, and had already achieved renown in the 1310s, when he created the Madonna in Maestà di Cortona and the cycle of frescoes of the Passion in the Lower Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. These works were already completed by the time he received the Arezzo commission. Pietro, brother to the painter Ambrogio Lorenzetti, is recognized as one of the greatest Fourteenth Century Tuscan masters coming from the school of Giotto, and was a precursor to the imminent stylistic renewal of the Renaissance. His works on wood and his frescoes are celebrated for their representations of space and for their naturalism, expressed with strong emotional tension.

 

Other works prior to 1320 include the Johnson Madonna at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the predella – also presumably his – of the Ferens Art Gallery (Hull Museums, UK), depicting Christ giving a blessing flanked by Saints Peter and Paul, as well as a Madonna and Child with two saints in the Museo Nazionale di Arte medievale e moderna in Arezzo (undated, recent discovery by Paola Refice). In the Uffizi, one can find his Pala del Carmine, from 1328, and the Polittico della Beata Umiltà, from 1340. In the Pinacoteca di Siena the Polittico di San Giusto, and in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Siena the splendid Nativity of the Virgin, from 1342. Painted for the Duomo in Siena, the latter the last known documented work attributable to Pietro Lorenzetti. It is likely he died in the plague epidemic of 134