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Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Ambruogio Laurati

Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Ambruogio Laurati

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Ambrogio Lorenzetti (or Ambruogio Laurati) (c. 1290 – 9 June 1348) was an Italian painter of the Sienese school. He was active from approximately 1317 to 1348. He painted The Allegory of Good and Bad Government in the Sala dei Nove (Salon of Nine or Council Room) in Siena's Palazzo Pubblico. His elder brother was the painter Pietro Lorenzetti.

Lorenzetti was highly influenced by both Byzantine art and classical art forms, and used these to create a unique and individualistic style of painting. His work was exceptionally original. Individuality at this time was unusual due to the influence of patronage on art. Because paintings were often commissioned, individualism in art was infrequently seen. It is known that Lorenzetti engaged in artistic pursuits that were thought to have their origins during the Renaissance, such as experimenting with perspective and physiognomy, and studying classical antiquity. His body of work clearly shows the innovativeness that subsequent artists chose to emulate.

His work, although more naturalistic, shows the influence of Simone Martini. The earliest dated work of the Sienese painter is a Madonna and Child (1319, Museo Diocesano, San Casciano). His presence was documented in Florence up until 1321. He would return there after spending a number of years in Siena.

Later he painted The Allegory of Good and Bad Government. The frescoes on the walls of the Room of the Nine (Sala dei Nove) or Room of Peace (Sala della Pace) in Siena's Palazzo Pubblico are one of the masterworks of early Renaissance secular painting. The "nine" was the oligarchal assembly of guild and monetary interests that governed the republic. Three walls are painted with frescoes consisting of a large assembly of allegorical figures of virtues in the Allegory of Good Government. In the other two facing panels, Ambrogio weaves panoramic visions of Effects of Good Government on Town and Country, and Allegory of Bad Government and its Effects on Town and Country (also called "Ill-governed Town and Country"). The better preserved "well-governed town and country" is an unrivaled pictorial encyclopedia of incidents in a peaceful medieval "borgo" and countryside.

The first evidence of the existence of the hourglass can be found in the fresco, Allegory of Bad Government and Its Effects on Town and Country.

Like his brother, he is believed to have died of bubonic plague in 1348. Giorgio Vasari includes a biography of Lorenzetti in his Lives.

Annunciation, 1344 Lorenzetti's final piece, telling the story of the Virgin Mary receiving the news from the Angel about the coming of baby Jesus, contains the first use of clear linear perspective. Though it is not perfect, and the gold background that is traditional for the time renders a flat feeling, the diagonals created on the floor do create depth.

Madonna and Child, 1319

In Madonna and Child, there is a clear debt to Byzantine art. The image of the Madonna is noted for its frontality, which is a typical characteristic of Byzantine art. The Madonna faces the viewer, as the Child gazes up at her. Though not as emotionally intense as subsequent Madonnas, in Lorenzetti’s Madonna and Child, the Virgin Mary belies a subtle level of emotion as she confronts the viewer. This difference could be attributed to the patron’s stylistic wishes for Madonna and Child, or could indicate Lorenzetti’s evolution of style. But, even in this early work, there is evidence of Lorenzetti’s talent for conveying the monumentality of figures, without the application of chiaroscuro. Chiaroscuro was often used to subtle effect in Byzantine art to depict spatial depth. Ambrogio instead used color and patterns to move the figures forward, as seen in Madonna and Child.

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