1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Guido of Siena

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

GUIDO OF SIENA. The name of this Italian painter is of considerable interest in the history of art, on the ground that, if certain assumptions regarding him could be accepted as true, he would be entitled to share with Cimabue, or rather indeed to supersede him in, the honour of having given the first onward impulse to the art of painting. The case stands thus. In the church of S. Domenico in Siena is a large painting of the “Virgin and Child Enthroned,” with six angels above, and in the Benedictine convent of the same city is a triangular pinnacle, once a portion of the same composition, representing the Saviour in benediction, with two angels; the entire work was originally a triptych, but is not so now. The principal section of this picture has a rhymed Latin inscription, giving the painter’s name as Gu . . . o de Senis, with the date 1221: the genuineness of the inscription is not, however, free from doubt, and especially it is maintained that the date really reads as 1281. In the general treatment of the picture there is nothing to distinguish it particularly from other work of the same early period; but the heads of the Virgin and Child are indisputably very superior, in natural character and graceful dignity, to anything to be found anterior to Cimabue. The question therefore arises, Are these heads really the work of a man who painted in 1221? Crowe and Cavalcaselle pronounce in the negative, concluding that the heads are repainted, and are, as they now stand, due to some artist of the 14th century, perhaps Ugolino da Siena; thus the claims of Cimabue would remain undisturbed and in their pristine vigour. Beyond this, little is known of Guido da Siena. There is in the Academy of Siena a picture assigned to him, a half-figure of the “Virgin and Child,” with two angels, dating probably between 1250 and 1300; also in the church of S. Bernardino in the same city a Madonna dated 1262. Milanesi thinks that the work in S. Domenico is due to Guido Graziani, of whom no other record remains earlier than 1278, when he is mentioned as the painter of a banner. Guido da Siena appears always to have painted on panel, not in fresco on the wall. He has been termed, very dubiously, a pupil of Pietrolino, and the master of “Diotisalvi,” Mino da Turrita and Berlinghieri da Lucca.