Siena – Art for a City (National Gallery)
Their local heroes were a pope, a preacher a couple of saints and more than a few talented painters and sculptors. They even succeeded in securing a transfer for Donatello from the
The early images of Saint Bernardino show that bouts of religious fervour gave such preachers huge celebrity fame. It was obvious from these few images in the first room that he was quite a performer, all passion, hand gestures and icons. Saint Catherine of
Based on a formidable tradition of fine painting from Duccio, Lorenszetti and Martini, the second room has the huge altarpiece by Matteo di Giovanni (1428-1495). The Virgin features strongly here.but the quality of the works didn’t warrant the hype. In the next room we have the Donatello door panel – stands out as soon as you enter the room. In heroes and heroines we have the bizarre story of Griselda, who is publicly stripped and humiliated by her husband who forced her to prepare for his second wedding.
The panels showing Alexander and other heroes are the highlight and I found my attention dipping in the subsequent rooms, especially Beccafumi (1484-1551). Once again the annoying lack of space and seating makes such exhibitions an ordeal.