Agnolo Bronzino

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Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Andreadi di Bonaiuto

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Andrea Mantegna

Antonello da Messina

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Bernard Berenson

Bernardo Daddi

Bianca Cappello

Bicci di Lorenzo

Bonaventura Berlinghieri

Buonamico Buffalmacco

Byzantine art



Dietisalvi di Speme

Domenico Beccafumi

Domenico di Bartolo

Domenico di Michelino

Domenico veneziano


Duccio di Buoninsegna

Eleonora da Toledo

Federico Zuccari

Filippino Lippi

Filippo Lippi

Fra Angelico

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Francesco di Giorgio Martini

Francesco Pesellino

Francesco Rosselli

Francia Bigio

Gentile da Fabriano


Domenico Ghirlandaio


Giorgio Vasari

Giotto di bondone

Giovanni da Modena

Giovanni da San Giovanni

Giovanni di Francesco

Giovanni di Paolo

Giovanni Toscani

Girolamo di Benvenuto

Guidoccio Cozzarelli

Guido da Siena

Il Sodoma

Jacopo del Sellaio

Jacopo Pontormo

Lippo Memmi

Lippo Vanni

Lorenzo Ghiberti

Lorenzo Monaco

Lo Scheggia

Lo Spagna

Luca Signorelli


masolino da panicale

master of monteoliveto

master of sain tfrancis

master of the osservanza

matteo di giovanni

memmo di filippuccio

neroccio di bartolomeo

niccolo di segna

paolo di giovanni fei

paolo ucello


piero della francesca

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piero di cosimo

pietro aldi

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sandro botticelli

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simone martini

spinello aretino

taddeo di bartolo

taddeo gaddi

ugolino di nerio




Simone Martini. Altar of St Louis of Toulouse, c. 1317, tempera on wood, 200 x 188 cm (without predella), Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples


Travel guide for Tuscany

Simone Martini | Frontispiece to Petrarch's Virgil

Simone Martini was born in 1284. Though little is known of his artistic origins (Vasari gives Giotto as his teacher) he appears as a fully developed master when he painted the Majestas in the Sala del Consiglio of the Siena Town Hall in 1315.

Simone Martini spent his last years at the papal court in Avignon, where he arrived in 1340 accompanied by his brother and collaborator, Donato.[1] They came to Avignon as artists and as official representatives of the Church in Siena. Only one signed and dated work is known from this period in France, the Holy Family (1342; Liverpool). Frescoes in the Cathedral are in a ruined state. A group of four small panels with scenes of the Passion and an Annunciation diptych (now in various museums) project a fervent emotionalism and dramatic tension matched only by the late sculpture of Giovanni Pisano.

The altarpiece was painted for the Angevin, Robert the Wise, King of Sicily. It represents St Louis of Toulouse seated with his brother, Robert the Wise, kneeling before him. The altar is important for its format. It consists of a large upper panel containing the image of the saint; and a predella beneath containing five small scenes showing episodes taken from his life. This is the first altarpiece to survive intact with an historiated predella. (It was certainly not the first to exist.) Simone's altar marks the beginning of a process whereby this format gradually became the normal one.

The St Louis altar, being a family monument, is also a good example of court art. The comparatively new demands for facial characterization, up to now associated mainly with sculpture, are here extended to painting in the kneeling figure of Robert the Wise. There is a considerable emphasis on costume, Robert kneeling in what are presumably his coronation robes. Both these and St Louis's cope are liberally covered with family heraldry. This extends to the frame, for the border of the whole panel is carved with "fleur-de-lis". Finally, the whole work was given an added sparkle and glitter by the addition of goldsmith's work to parts of St Louis figure; and also by the addition of stones (probably semi-precious) to such objects as the crowns. These are now lost but such additions were regularly made to royal tomb effigies in the north.

In the predella, set in an arcade, there are five small pictures with scenes from the saint's life. They show: 1. his acceptance of the episcopal office, on condition that he would at the same time be permitted to enter the Franciscan order; 2. his entry into the Franciscan order and consecration as bishop; 3. washing the hands of the poor and inviting them to his table; 4. Louis on his bier; 5. the miracle of the boy raised from the dead.


Simone Martini. Altar of St Louis of Toulouse, c. 1317, (detail), Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples
Simone Martini. Altar of St Louis of Toulouse, c. 1317, tempera on wood, 200 x 188 cm ( predella), Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples

On the underside of the entrance arch of the Cappella di San Martino eight full-length saints are painted in four pairs. They are Saints Francis, Clare, and Anthony of Padua - tributes to the Order that administered the Basilica - as well as other saints connected to Robert of Anjou: Louis of Toulouse, his older brother; Elizabeth of Hungary, the aunt of his mother, Mary; Louis IX, King of France, his great-grandfather; Mary Magdalene and Catherine of Alexandria, saints his father Charles II was particularly devoted to.

The figure of St Louis of France was painted at a later date over a figure dressed in a long white tunic still visible in the lower part of the fresco.

Simone Martini, St. Louis of France and St. Louis of Toulouse, Assisi, St.Martin Chapel, Lower Basilica, S. Francesco
[1] Simone Martini (c. 1284–1344) was an Italian painter born in Siena. He was a major figure in the development of early Italian painting and greatly influenced the development of the International Gothic style.

It is thought that Martini was a pupil of Duccio di Buoninsegna, the leading Sienese painter of his time. According to late Renaissance art biographer Giorgio Vasari, Simone was instead a pupil of Giotto di Bondone, with whom he went to Rome to paint at the Old St. Peter's Basilica, Giotto also executing a mosaic there. Martini's brother-in-law was the artist Lippo Memmi. Very little documentation survives regarding Simone's life, and many attributions are debated by art historians.

Simone was doubtlessly apprenticed from an early age, as would have been the normal practice. Among his first documented works is the Maestà of 1315 in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. A copy of the work, executed shortly thereafter by Lippo Memmi in San Gimignano, testifies to the enduring influence Simone's prototypes would have on other artists throughout the 14th century. Perpetuating the Sienese tradition, Simone's style contrasted with the sobriety and monumentality of Florentine art, and is noted for its soft, stylized, decorative features, sinuosity of line, and courtly elegance. Simone's art owes much to French manuscript illumination and ivory carving: examples of such art were brought to Siena in the fourteenth century by means of the Via Francigena, a main pilgrimage and trade route from Northern Europe to Rome.

Simone's other major works include the St. Louis of Toulouse Crowning the King at the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples (1317), the Saint Catherine of Alexandria Polyptych in Pisa (1319) and the Annunciation with St. Margaret and St. Ansanus at the Uffizi in Florence (1333), as well as frescoes in the San Martino Chapel in the lower church of the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi. Francis Petrarch became a friend of Simone's while in Avignon, and two of Petrarch's sonnets (Canzoniere 96 and 130) make reference to a portrait of Laura de Noves that Simone supposedly painted for the poet (according to Vasari).

A Christ Discovered in the Temple (1342) is in the collections of Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery.
Simone Martini died while in the service of the Papal court at Avignon in 1344.


Giorgio Vasari, Simone Martini

[2] The fresco was painted between Simone's arrival in Avignon sometime between I336 and I340, and his death in that city in 1344. He painted the St. George fresco on the south wall of the porch of Notre Dame-des-Doms and a Virgin and Child with Angels (and Donor) in the tympanum with Christ in Glory above.

Giacomo DeNicola proposed that an illumination in the socalled St. George Codex in the Vatican depicting the battle between the saint and the dragon was a copy of a lost fresco in Avignon painted by Simone Martini between 1336 and 1344.7 The fresco, since its destruction in the early nineteenth century, is known only from early written descriptions, but DeNicola believed he had discovered a drawing copy of it in the Vatican library (Barb. lat. 4426, fol. 36). He concluded that the St. George Codex illumination so closely resembled the drawing that it proved that the Master had copied Simone's Avignon fresco.

For a discussion of Simone's work in Avignon and a review of the controversy over his arrival date, Francois Enaud, "Les Fresques di Simone Martini a Avignon," Les Monuments Historiques de la France 9 (I963) pp. ii I-I80. Marthe Bloch, "When did Simone go to Avignon?," Speculum 2 (1927) pp. 470-472, demonstrated that the traditional date of 1340 was probably wrong; John Rowlands, "The date of Simone Martini's arrival in Avignon," Burlington Magazine 107 (I965) pp. 25-26, supported Bloch's date of I336; Giacomo DeNicola, "L'Affresco di Simone Martini ad Avignone," L'Arte9 (1906) pp. 336-344. [John Howett, Two Panels by the Master of the St. George Codex in The Cloisters]

Giorgio Vasari | Le vite de' più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori italiani, da Cimabue insino a' tempi nostri | Simone Martini

Arte in Toscana | Simone Martini


Pierluigi Leone de Castris, Simone Martini: catalogo completo dei dipinti , Firenze, c1989.

Marco Pierini, Simone Martini, Silvana Editore, Milano 2002.

Pierluigi Leone de Castris, Simone Martini, Federico Motta Editore, Milano 2003.

Piero Torriti, Simone Martini, Giunti Editore, Firenze 2006.

Walter Berschin: Glossierte Virgil-Handschriften dreier aetates Virglianae. The Role of the Book in Medieval Culture: Proceedings of the Oxford International Symposium, 26 September–1 October 1982; Bibliologia 3-4; Turnhout: Brepols, 1986; Band 1, S. 116-121


Holiday homes in Tuscany | Podere Santa Pia| Artist and writer's residency


Podere Santa Pia
Podere Santa Pia, garden view, April
View from terrace with a stunning view over the Maremma and Montecristo

Siena, Piazza del Campo

Siena, duomo
Siena, Piazza del Campo


Spoleto, Duomo
Piazza della Santissima Annunziata
in Florence
Florence, Duomo
Podere Santa Pia offers an extensive view of a breathtaking panorama all the way to the sea. The beautifully situated terrace has views over what seems like half of southern Tuscany. On clear days you can have a great view of the islands of Montecristo, Elba and even Corsica.