1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/San Gimignano

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SAN GIMIGNANO, a town of Tuscany, Italy, in the province of Siena, 24 m. N.W. of Siena, at an elevation of 1089 ft. Pop. (1901) 4060 (town); 10,066 (commune). Being surrounded by its ancient walls, and retaining thirteen out of its original fifty towers, it is, with its predominantly Gothic architecture, a thoroughly medieval town in appearance. In the council chamber of the town-hall (1288-1323) is a fresco by Lippo Memmi of the Madonna enthroned of 1317, copied closely from the similar fresco (the “Majestas”) by his master Simone di Martino in the Palazzo Pubblico at Siena; there is also a curious frescoed frieze of 1291, with knights in armour. The museum in the same building contains pictures and other objects of art. The tower is the highest in the town (174 ft.), while the Torre dell' Orologio (167 ft.) close by marks the height beyond which private individuals might not build. In the same piazza is the Collegiata (the former cathedral) of the 12th century, enlarged after 1466 by Giuliano da Maiano, whose brother Benedetto erected the chapel of S. Fina from his plans in 1468, and carved the fine marble altar, the original painting and gilding of which are still preserved. The marble ciborium, a small reproduction of the splendid one in S. Domenico at Siena, is also by Benedetto. The beautiful frescoes with scenes from the life of the saint (a local saint who died at the age of fifteen) are the earliest work of Domenico Ghirlandaio, completed before 1475. There are also some frescoes of his cousin Bastiano Mainardi (d. 1513). The cathedral contains other 14th-century and early Renaissance paintings, the former including some Passion scenes, the only certain work of Barna da Siena, and some fine choir stalls. S. Agostino (1280-1298) contains a famous series of seventeen frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli, with scenes from the life of St Augustine (1463-1467). They have been to some extent restored. The altar of S. Bartoldus, by Benedetto da Maiano, is not unlike that in the Collegiata (1494). The town was independent in the 13th century, but in 1353, owing to the dissensions of the Salvucci (Ghibellines) and Ardinghelli (Guelphs), it fell into the hands of Florence.

See R. Pantini, San Gimignano e Certaldo (Bergamo, 1905).