Agnolo Bronzino

Agnolo Gaddi

Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Andreadi di Bonaiuto

Andrea del Castagno

Andrea del Sarto

Andrea di Bartolo

Andrea Mantegna

Antonello da Messina

Antonio del Pollaiuolo

Bartolo di Fredi

Bartolomeo di Giovanni

Benozzo Gozzoli

Benvenuto di Giovanni

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

Fra Carnevale

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

piero del pollaiolo

piero di cosimo

pietro aldi

pietro lorenzetti



sandro botticelli

sano di pietro


simone martini

spinello aretino

taddeo di bartolo

taddeo gaddi

ugolino di nerio



Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Allegory of Good Government (detail), Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, 1338-40
Travel guide for Tuscany

Giorgio Vasari | Lives of the Artists

Ambrogio Lorenzetti

AMBROGIO LORENZETTI (circa 1290-circa 1348)



IF THAT DEBT IS GREAT, as without doubt it is, which craftsmen of fine genius should acknowledge to nature, much greater should that be that is due from us to them, seeing that they, with great solicitude, fill the cities with noble and useful buildings and with lovely historical compositions, gaining for themselves, for the most part, fame and riches with their works; as did Ambrogio Lorenzetti, painter of Siena, who showed beautiful and great invention in grouping and placing his figures thoughtfully in historical scenes. That this is true is proved by a scene in the Church of the Friars Minor in Siena, painted by him very gracefully in the cloister, wherein there is represented in what manner a youth becomes a friar, and how he and certain others go to the Soldan, and are there beaten and sentenced to the gallows and hanged on a tree, and finally beheaded, with the addition of a terrible tempest. In this picture, with much art and dexterity, he counterfeited in the travailing of the figures the turmoil of the air and the fury of the rain and of the wind, wherefrom the modern masters have learnt the method and the principle of this invention, by reason of which, since it was unknown before, he deserved infinite commendation.

Ambrogio was a practised colorist in fresco, and he handled colors in distemper with great dexterity and facility, as it is still seen in the panels executed by him in Siena for the little hospital called Mona Agnesa, where he painted and finished a scene with new and beautiful composition. And at the great hospital, on one front, he made in fresco the Nativity of Our Lady and the scene when she is going with the virgins to the Temple. For the Friars of S. Augustine in the same city he painted their Chapterhouse, where the Apostles are seen represented on the vaulting, with scrolls in their hands whereon is written that part of the Creed which each one of them made; and below each is a little scene containing in painting that same subject that is signified above by the writing. Near this, on the main front, are three stories of S. Catherine the martyr, who is disputing with the tyrant in a temple, and, in the middle, the Passion of Christ, with the Thieves on the Cross, and the Maries below, who are supporting the Virgin Mary who has swooned; which works were finished by him with much grace and with beautiful manner.

In a large hall of the Palazzo della Signoria in Siena he painted the War of Asinalunga, and after it the Peace and its events, wherein he fashioned a map, perfect for those times; and in the same palace he made eight scenes in terra-verde, highly finished. It is said that he also sent to Volterra a panel in distemper which was much praised in that city. And painting a chapel in fresco and a panel in distemper at Massa, in company with others, he gave them proof how great, both in judgment and in genius, was his worth in the art of painting; and in Orvieto he painted in fresco the principal Chapel of S. Maria. After these works, proceeding to Florence, he made a panel in S. Procolo, and in a chapel he painted the stories of S. Nicholas with little figures, in order to satisfy certain of his friends, who desired to see his method of working; and, being much practised, he executed this work in so short a time that there accrued to him fame and infinite repute. And this work, on the predella of which he made his own portrait, brought it about that in the year 1335 he was summoned to Cortona by order of Bishop Ubertini, then lord of that city, where he wrought certain works in the Church of S. Margherita, built a short time before for the Friars of S. Francis on the summit of the hill, and in particular the half of the vaulting and the walls, so well that, although today they are wellnigh eaten away by time, there are seen notwithstanding most beautiful effects in the figures; and it is clear that he was deservedly commended for them.

This work finished, Ambrogio returned to Siena, where he lived honorably the remainder of his life, not only by reason of being an excellent master in painting, but also because, having given attention in his youth to letters, they were a useful and pleasant accompaniment to him in his painting, and so great an ornament to his whole life that they rendered him no less popular and beloved than did his profession of painting; wherefore he was not only intimate with men of learning and of taste, but he was also employed, to his great honor and advantage, in the government of his Republic. The ways of Ambrogio were in all respects worthy of praise, and rather those of a gentleman and a philosopher than of a craftsman; and what most demonstrates the wisdom of men, he had ever a mind disposed to be content with that which the world and time brought, wherefore he supported with a mind temperate and calm the good and the evil that came to him from fortune. And truly it cannot be told to what extent courteous ways and modesty, with the other good habits, are an honourable accompaniment to all the arts, and in particular to those that are derived from the intellect and from noble and exalted talents; wherefore every man should make himself no less beloved with his ways than with the excellence of his art.

Finally, at the end of his life, Ambrogio made a panel at Monte Oliveto di Chiusuri with great credit to himself, and a little afterwards, being eighty-three years of age, he passed happily and in the Christian faith to a better life. His works date about 1340.

As it has been said, the portrait of Ambrogio, by his own hand, is seen in the predella of his panel in S. Procolo, with a cap on his head. And what was his worth in draughtsmanship is seen in our book, wherein are some passing good drawings by his hand.



Martyrdom of the Franciscans

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Martyrdom of the Franciscans, 1336-1340, fresco (detached), Siena, Church of San Francesco



Madonna with Angels and Saints (Maestà) in Massa Marittima

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Madonna with Angels and Saints (Maestà)
Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Madonna with Angels and Saints (Maestà), Museo di Arte Sacra, Massa Marittima



The Maestà in Sant'Agostino, Siena

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Maesta, 1337-1338 circa, affresco, Chiesa di Sant'Agostino, Siena




Effects of Good and Bad Government on Town and Country

Effects of Good Government on Town and Country (1338-1339) Palazzo Pubblico, Siena


Effects of Good Government on Town and Country (1338-1339) Palazzo Pubblico, Siena


Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Bad Government and the Effects of Bad Government on the City Life (detail), fresco in the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena
Effects of Bad Government on the Countryside (detail), 1338-40, fresco in Palazzo Pubblico, Siena


Madonna and Child, Roccalbegna

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Madonna and Child in the Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo, Roccalbegna


Altarpiece with Saint Michael ,Asciano

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, St Michael slaying the dragon, Museo d'Arte Sacra, Asciano


Annunciation, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Annunciation, 1344, cm.127x120, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena


[1] Vasari, Giorgio (b Arezzo, 30 July 1511; d Florence, 27 June 1574). Italian painter, architect, and writer, active mainly in Florence and Rome. In his day he was a leading painter, architect, and artistic impresario, but his activities in these fields have been completely overshadowed by his role as the most important of all artistic biographers. His great book, generally referred to as Lives of the Artists, has earned him the title of the father of art history; it is not only the fundamental source of information on Italian Renaissance art, but also a key document in shaping attitudes about the period for centuries afterwards. (The book was first published in Florence in 1550 as Le vite de' più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori italiani—The Lives of the Most Eminent Italian Architects, Painters, and Sculptors; in 1568 there was a second, much enlarged edition, in which the title is slightly changed, the painters being mentioned first. In addition to biographies, the book contains a lengthy introduction dealing with artists' materials and techniques.)

Vasari wrote from a particular aesthetic viewpoint, and his book is not only a collection of biographical information but also a critical history of style. He believed that art is in the first instance imitation of nature and that progress in painting consists in the perfecting of the means of representation. He thought that such representational skills had been taken to high levels in classical antiquity, that art had then passed through a long period of decline in the Middle Ages, and that it had begun to revive in the 14th century in Tuscany (he was heavily biased in favour of his own region). The main theme of the Lives was to set forth this revival—its initiation by Cimabue and Giotto, its steady advance at the hands of such artists as Brunelleschi, Donatello, and Masaccio, and its culmination with Leonardo, Raphael, and above all Michelangelo, whom Vasari idolized and whose biography was the only one of a living artist to appear in the first edition of his book (the second edition adds accounts of several artists then living, including Vasari's autobiography). The idea of artistic ‘progress’ that he promoted subsequently coloured most writing on the period.

Given the wide scope and vast size of the book (the second edition has roughly the same wordage as the Bible), it is not surprising that it contains many errors and contentious points (see, for example, Andrea del Castagno and Andrea del Sarto). However, by the standards of the time Vasari was a diligent researcher and he gathered together an enormous amount of invaluable information, which he presented in a lively style, full of memorable anecdotes. Moreover, his qualitative judgements have generally stood the test of time well: the artists and works he most admired are by and large still the ones we most admire today. His book became the model for artistic biographers in other countries, such as van Mander in the Netherlands, Sandrart in Germany, and Palomino in Spain.

As a painter, Vasari was one of the most prolific decorators of his period, but he is not now highly regarded, his work representing the most in-bred and affected kind of Mannerism. His best-known achievement in this field is probably the decoration (1546) of the grand salon in the Palazzo della Cancelleria, Rome, with scenes celebrating the life of Pope Paul III, commissioned by his grandson Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. Pressed for quick results by the cardinal, Vasari enlisted a team of assistants and finished the work within 100 days, earning the room its nickname of the Sala dei Cento Giorni. When Michelangelo was told of the remarkable speed with which the work had been accomplished, he is said to have made the withering response ‘E si vede’ (So it appears). As an architect Vasari has a higher reputation; his most important building is the Uffizi in Florence, and he designed and decorated his own house in Arezzo, now a museum dedicated to him. Vasari was the first important collector of drawings, using them partly as research material for his biographies, for the insight they gave into the creative process, and he also played the leading role in establishing Florence's Accademia del Disegno.
[IAN CHILVERS. "Vasari, Giorgio." The Oxford Dictionary of Art. 2004. (June 13, 2011).]

Giorgio Vasari | Lives of the Most Eminent Painters Sculptors and Architects

Art in Tuscany | Art in Tuscany | Giorgio Vasari | Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects
Volume I | Cimabue to Agnolo Gaddi
Volume II | Berna to Michelozzo Michelozzi
Volume III | Filarete And Simone To Mantegna
Volume IV | Filippino Lippi To Domenico Puligo
Volume V | Andrea Da Fiesole to Lorenzo Lotto
Volume VI | Fra Giocondo To Niccolò Soggi
Volume VII | Tribolo to Il Sodoma
Volume VIII | Bastiano to Taddeo Zucchero
Volume IX | Michelagnolo To The Flemings
Volume X | Bronzino to Vasari | General Index

Lives of the Most Eminent Painters Sculptors and Architects, Giorgio Vasari | download pdf

Art in Tuscany | Ambrogio Lorenzetti

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


Podere Santa Pia
Podere Santa Pia, garden view, April
View from Podere Santa Pia
on the coast and Corsica


Podere Santa Pia, garden view, December
Piazza della Santissima Annunziata
in Florence
Choistro dello Scalzo, Florence
The façade and the bell tower of
San Marco in Florence
Piazza della Santissima Annunziata
in Florence
Florence, Duomo