Pietro Lorenzetti


Pietro Lorenzetti was an Italian painter, active between approximately 1306 and 1345. Together with his younger brother, the painter Ambrogio Lorenzetti, he helped introduce naturalism into Sienese art. In their artistry and experiments with three-dimensional and spatial arrangements, the two brothers foreshadowed the art of the Renaissance.

Although he was born and died in Siena, the dates of his life are not precise. He is believed to have died in 1348, probably from the Black Death that swept through the area. The chronology of his works is also in much debate. Pietro Lorenzetti was responsible for works in Assisi, Florence, Pistoia, and Cortona, as well as Siena. His influences included Duccio, who he may have worked with in his workshop possibly alongside Simone Martini. Giotto's influence is also evident, as is that of Giovanni Pisano and his sculpture work. He collaborated with his younger brother Ambrogio on a now lost fresco, which decorated the façade of the Ospedale della Scala in Siena.

Many of his religious works are in churches in Siena, Arezzo, and Assisi. His last documented work is the Nativity of the Virgin (c. 1335-1342), now in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. Although Lorenzetti's integration of frame and painted architecture in this work is usually discussed as a unique phenomenon, it is evident in the frescoes of Assisi some decades earlier. One probable conclusion can be made that he did not read Latin as there was documentation of a translator being paid in association with his work on The Birth of the Virgin.

His masterwork is a tempera fresco decoration of the lower church of Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi, where he painted a series of large panels depicting Crucifixion, Deposition from the Cross, and Entombment. In these works, massed figures display emotional interactions, unlike many prior depictions which appear to be iconic agglomerations, as if independent figures had been glued on to a surface, with no compelling relationship to one another. The narrative influence of Giotto's frescoes in the Bardi and Peruzzi Chapels in Santa Croce (Florence) and the Arena Chapel (Padua) can be seen in these and other