Image by Lforzini, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
 MATTEO DI GIOVANNI: an account of a painted massacre, 23rd June - 08th October 2006
The exhibition intends to illustrate the paintings of Matteo di Giovanni in a chronological sequence to establish the compositional-substantial developments especially in the last one carried out for the powerful, Sienese Spannocchi family.
The exhibition MATTEO DI GIOVANNI: an account of a painted massacre comes from the recent restoration of two Sienese altar pieces, one made for the basilica of St. Augustine and the other for the church of the “Servi”, which have The Massacre of the Innocents as subject. Every piece of restoration work increases knowledge and critical reflection and even this time, the work carried out upon the two paintings has put forward once again all those questions of criticism regarding a subject which has, in a period of over ten years, appeared for four times in Sienese art by the same artist, Matteo di Giovanni. Three large altar-pieces, one of which was for the Neapolitan church of “Santa Maria a Formello” after having done the “clearing” of the floor of the Duomo, commissioned by the Worker Alberto Aringhieri, which opens the series and which has, in recent years, posed the problem of attributing the works either to Matteo or to Francesco di Giorgio.
Fulcrum of the exhibition are in fact the paintings of the artist having The Massacre of the Innocents as a subject: the text of the Epistle of St. Matthew, scanty but rich in dramatic implications, used for the first time in the history of the floor of the Duomo of Siena, must have seemed, to the artists of those days, the representation which best rendered the topical drama of a recent event, the battle of Otranto. The battle which was fought on 27th July, 1480, saw the Turkish naval fleet, at the orders of Gedik Ahmed Pascià, one of the generals of Muhammed II the Conqueror, against the resistance of the small town which - hoping in a rapid arrival of the much-needed aid on the part of Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, who had left from Siena to lead Aragonese troups - succeeded in resisting the attacks for two weeks before being conquered by the Turks.
Matteo di Giovanni, born in Borgo San Sepolcro in around 1430, is already present in Siena in 1452: it is possible that he was greatly influenced by the works of his fellow countryman Piero della Francesca and that, once having reached Siena, it can be said that his artistic itinerary was completed under the protection of Lorenzo di Pietro known as “Il Vecchietta”. Not to be underestimated is the Sienese activity of Donatello, which has left deep and unavoidable traces even for those artists who like Matteo, have become the “first generation” of followers of the “Vecchietta”.
The exhibition intends to illustrate the paintings of Matteo di Giovanni in a chronological sequence to establish the compositional-substantial developments especially in the last one carried out for the powerful, Sienese Spannocchi family, the points of contact and the differences between the marble order of the Duomo, with which the painting of St. Augustine shows a more direct filiation and more precise references. The exhibition, organized by Cecilia Alessi and Alessandro Bagnoli, is promoted by the City of Siena, the Santa Maria della Scala Institution and by the Ministry of National Heritage and Cultural Activities - the Superintendence for the Historical- Artistic Heritage of Siena and Grosseto and will be held from 24th June to 8th October 2006 in the museum complex of Santa Maria della Scala - Palazzo SQuarcialupo. The catalogue holds, amongst others, essays by Franco Cardini and Ludwin Paardekooper.