Celebrating the Virgin Mary as both an object of religious devotion and a focus of civic pride, fourteenth century Sienese artists established within their city a vibrant pictoral tradition that continued into the early decades of the next century. Such celebratory images of the Virgin were also common in Siena's extensive subject territories, the contado. This richly illustrated book explores the late medieval Sienese Marian art - how it was commissioned, created and understood by the Sienese. Examining political, economic and cultural relations between Siena and the contado. Diana Norman offers a new understanding of Marian art and its political function as an expression of Sienese civic ideology. Drawing extensively on unpublished archive material Norman reconstructs the circumstances surrounding the commission of Marian art in the three most prestigious locations of fourteenth-century Siena: the cathedral, the Palazzo Pubblico and the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala. She analyses similarly important commissions in the contado towns of Massa Marittima, Montalcino and Montepulciano. Casting new light on such topics as the original site for the reliquary tomb of Saint Cerbone, patron saint of Massa Marittima, and the identity of the patrons of the marian frescoes in the rural hermitage of San Leonardo al Lago, the author deepens our insight into the origins and meanings of Sienese art production of the late medieval period.
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