Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/64

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49
SIENA

magnificence of the uncompleted design, which would have produced one of the largest churches in the world.

The splendid west front, of tricuspidal form, enriched with a multitude of columns, statues and inlaid marbles, is said to have been begun by Giovanni Pisano, but really dates from after 1370; it was finished in 1380, and closely resembles that of Orvieto, which is earlier in date (begun in 1310). Both façades have been recently restored, and the effect of them not altogether improved by modern mosaics. The fine Romanesque campanile belongs to the first half of the 14th century. Conspicuous among the art treasures of the interior is the well-known octagonal pulpit by Niccola Pisano, dating from 1266–1268. It rests on columns supported by lions, and is finely sculptured. Numerous statues and bas-reliefs by Renaissance artists adorn the various altars and chapels. The cathedral pavement is almost unique. It is inlaid with designs in colour and black and white, representing Biblical and legendary subjects, and is supposed to have been begun by Duccio della Buoninsegna. But the finest portions beneath the domes, with scenes from the history of Abraham, Moses and Elijah, are by Domenico Beccafumi and are executed with marvellous boldness and effect. The choir stalls also deserve mention: the older ones (remains of the original choir) are in tarsia work; the others, dating from the 16th century, are carved from Riccio's designs. The Piccolomini Library, adjoining the duomo, was founded by Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini (afterwards Pius III.) in honour of his uncle, Pius II. Here are Pinturicchio's famous frescoes of scenes from the life of the latter pontiff, and the collection of choir books (supported on sculptured desks) with splendid illuminations by Sienese and other artists. The church of San. Giovanni, the ancient baptistery, beneath the cathedral is approached by an outer flight of marble steps built in 1451. It has a beautiful but incomplete fagade designed by Giovanni di Mino del Pellicciaio in 1382, and a marvellous font with bas-reliefs by Donatello, Ghiberti. Jacopo della Quercia and other 15th-century sculptors. The Opera del Duomo contains Duccio's famous Madonna, painted for the cathedral in 1308–1311, and other works of art.

Among the other churches are S. Maria di Provenzano, a vast baroque building of some elegance, designed by Schifardini (1594); Sant' Agostino, rebuilt by Vanvitelli in 1755, containing a Crucifixion and Saints by Perugino, a Massacre of the Innocents by Matteo di Giovanni, the Coming of the Magi by Sodoma, and a St Anthony by Spagnoletto (?) ; the beautiful church of the Servites (15th century), which contains another Massacre of the Innocents by Matteo di Giovanni and other good examples of the Sienese school; San Francesco, designed by Agostino and Agnolo about 1326, and now restored, which once possessed many fine paintings by Duccio Buoninsegna, Lorenzetti, Sodoma and Beccafumi, some of which perished in the great fire of 1655 ; San Domenico, a fine 13th-century building with a single nave and transept, containing Sodoma's splendid fresco the Swoon of St Catherine, the Madonna of Guido da Siena, 1281 , and a crucifix by Sano di Pietro. This church crowns the Fontebranda hill above the famous fountain of that name immortalized by Dante, and in a steep lane below stands the house of St Catherine, now converted into a church and oratory, and maintained at the expense of the inhabitants of the Contrada dell' Oca. It contains some good pictures by Pacchia and other works of art, but is chiefly visited for its historic interest and as a striking memorial of the characteristic piety of the Sienese. The Accademia di Belle Arti contains a good collection of pictures of the Sienese school, illustrating its development.

The communal palace in the Piazza del Campo was begun in 1288 and finished in 1309. It is built of brick, is a fine specimen of Pointed Gothic, and was designed by Agostino and Agnolo. The light and elegant tower (Torre del Mangla) soaring from one side of the palace was begun in 1338 and finished after 1348, and the chapel standing at its foot, raised at the expense of the Opera del Duomo as a public thank-offering after the plague of 1348, begun in 1352 and completed in 1376. This grand old palace has other attractions besides the beauty of its architecture, for its interior is lined with works of art. The atrium has a fresco by Bartolo di Fredi and the two ground-floor halls contain a Coronation of the Virgin by Sano di Pietro and a splendid Resurrection by Sodoma. In the Sala dei Nove or della Pace above are the noble allegorical frescoes of Ambrogio Lorenzetti representing the effects of just and unjust government; the Sala delle Balestre or del Mappamondo is painted by Simone di Martino (Memmi) and others, the Cappella della Signoria by Taddeo di Bartolo, and the Sala del Consiatorio by Beccafumi. Another hall, the Sala di Balia, has frescoes by Spinello Aretino (1408) with scenes from the life of Pope Alexander III., while yet another has been painted by local artists with episodes in recent Italian history. An interesting exhibition of Sienese art, including many objects from neighbouring towns and villages, was held here in 1904. The former hall of the grand council, built in 1327, was converted into the chief theatre of Siena by Riccio in 1560, and, after being twice burnt, was rebuilt in 1753 from Bibbiena's designs. Another Sienese theatre that of the Rozzi, in Piazza San Pellegrino, designed by A. Doveri and erected in 1816, although modern, has an historic interest as the work of an academy dating from the 16th century, called the Congrega de' Rozzi, that played an important part in the history of the Italian comic stage.

The city is adorned by many other noble edifices both public and private, among which the following palaces may be mentioned—Tolomei (1205); Buonsignori, formerly Tegliacci, an elegant 14th- century construction, restored in 1848; Grottanelli, formerly Pecci and anciently the residence of the captain of war, recently restored in its original style; Sansedoni; Marsilii; Piccolomini, now belonging to the Government and containing the state archives;[1] Piccolomini delle Papesse, like the other Piccolomini mansion, designed by Bernardo Rossellino, and now the Banca d' Italia; the enormous block of the Monte de' Paschi, a bank of considerable wealth and antiquity, enlarged and partly rebuilt in the original style between 1877 and 1881, the old Dogana and Salimbeni palaces; the Palazzo Spannochi, a fine early Renaissance building by Giuliano da Maiano (now the post office); the Loggia di Mercanzia (15th century), now a club, imitating the Loggia dei Lanzi at Florence, with sculptures of the 15th century; the Loggia del Papa, erected by Pius II.; and other fine buildings. We may also mention the two celebrated fountains, Fonte Gaia and Fontebranda; the former, in the Piazza del Campo, by Jacopo della Quercia (1409–1419), but freely restored in 1868, the much-damaged original reliefs being now in the Opera del Duomo; the Fonte Nuova, near Porta Ovile, by Camaino di Crescentino also deserves notice (1298). Thanks to all these architectural treasures, the narrow Sienese streets with their many windings and steep ascents are full of picturesque charm, and, together with the collections of excellent paintings, foster the local pride of the inhabitants and preserve their taste and feeling for art. The medieval walls and gates are still in the main preserved. The ruined Cistercian abbey of S. Galgano, founded in 1201, with its fine church (1240- –1268) is interesting and imposing. It lies some 20 m. south-west of Siena.

History.—Siena was probably founded by the Etruscans (a few tombs of that period have been found outside Porta Camollia), and then, falling under the Roman rule, became a colony in the reign of Augustus, or a little earlier, and was distinguished by the name of Saena Julia. It has the same arms as Rome—the she-wolf and twins. But its real importance dates from the middle ages. Few memorials of the Roman era[2] or of the first centuries of Christianity have been preserved (except the legend of St Ansanus), and none at all of the interval preceding the Lombard period. We have documentary evidence that in the 7th century in the reign of Rotaris (or Rotari), there was a bishop of Siena named Mauro. Attempts to trace earlier bishops as far back as the 5th century have yielded only vague and contradictory results. Under the Lombards the civil government was in the hands of a gastaldo, under the Carolingians of a count, whose authority, by slow degrees and a course of events similar to what took place in other Italian communes, gave way to that of the bishop, whose power in turn gradually diminished and was superseded by that of the consuls and the commonwealth.

We have written evidence of the consular government of Siena from 1125 to 1212; the number of consuls varied from three to twelve. This government, formed of gentiluomini or nobles, did not remain unchanged throughout the whole period, but was gradually forced to accept the participation of the popolani or lower classes, whose efforts to rise to power were continuous and determined. Thus in 1137 they obtained a third part of the government by the reconstitution of the general council with 100 nobles and 50 popolani. In 1199 the institution of a foreign podestà (a form of government which became permanent in 1212) gave a severe blow to the consular magistracy, which was soon extinguished; and in 1233 the people again rose against the nobles in the hope of ousting them entirely from office.

The strife was largely economic, the people desiring to deprive the nobles of the immunity of taxation which they had enjoyed. The attempt was not completely successful; but the government was now equally divided between the two estates by the creation of a supreme magistracy of twenty-four citizens—twelve nobles and twelve popolani. During the rule of the nobles and the mixed rule of nobles and popolani the commune of Siena was enlarged by fortunate acquisitions of neighbouring lands and by the submission of feudal lords, such as the Scialenghi, Aldobrandeschi, Pannocchieschi, Visconti di Campiglia, &c.

  1. In these are especially interesting the painted covers of the books of the bicchierna and gabella, or revenue and tax offices.
  2. There are, however, remains of baths some 2½ m. to the east; see P. Piccolomini in Bullettino Senese de story patria, vi. (1899).