I went to the Renaissance Siena: Art for a City exhibition today. It’s late C15th and early C16th art. I gathered from the audio-guide that by then, Siena had already had its golden age, and was dropping behind places like Florence and Rome as an artistic centre.
So the artists in the show—Matteo di Giovanni, Francesco di Giorgio, Benvenuto di Giovanni, the Master of the Legend of Griselda, Signorelli, Pintoricchi, Beccafumi—aren’t household names. I hadn’t heard of any of them. And if someone who was a fan of the Italian Renaissance was passing through London for the first time and considering going to the exhibition, I’d recommend they bypass it and visit the National Gallery’s permanent collection, which has some superb Renaissance paintings.
Nonetheless, I did enjoy it. I find these early Renaissance works extremely likeable, although I couldn’t easily articulate why. There’s something very human about them, both in scale and style, which makes them more approachable than grander works by people like Michelangelo. They draw you in to look closely and enjoy the details.
And I had a very nice lemon tart in the National Gallery café.
» the two details above are both from paintings which are in the Gallery’s permanent collection and are currently in the Siena show. The first is ‘The Story of Patient Griselda, Part I’ by the Master of the Story of Griselda; the other is ‘Saint Dorothy and the Infant Christ’ by Francesco di Giorgio.