Agnolo Bronzino

Agnolo Gaddi

Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Andreadi di Bonaiuto

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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



Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore
Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore

Travel guide for Tuscany

The Master of Monte Oliveto

The Monte Oliveto Master, a highly distinctive artist who worked in the close following of Duccio but who probably did not train in his workshop who takes his name from a panel of The Enthroned Madonna in the monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, in Asciano, near Siena. The Asciano panel almost certainly derives from Duccio's lost Maesta of 1302, which was painted for the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena, and must have been executed within a few years of Duccio's original.

The story of Sienese painting in the wake of its brilliant founder, Duccio di Buoninsegna (active ca. 1278–d. 1318), is a complicated one. As Duccio's fame spread and his innovations in style, composition, and painterly technique became more widely known to his contemporaries, a flurry of artists rushed to capitalize on the new developments. For years scholars have struggled to determine which artists actually studied in Duccio's workshop and which ones were more geographically and temporally removed imitators. The Master of Monte Oliveto, an anonymous Ducciesque painter named for a picture he made for the monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, near Asciano (Tabernacle Center with the Madonna and Child Enthroned with Angels and Annunciation), has been one such subject of divided opinion.

The Master of Monte Oliveto has traditionally been thought of as a close follower of Duccio, and several scholars have suggested that he actually worked for some time in the shop of the great master, placing his years of activity from about 1300 to about 1320. However, most of these observations rely heavily on iconographical comparisons between the Master's and Duccio's works. This method of scholarship is an imperfect one to use as a basis for dating for two reasons. First, scholars simply cannot know what pictures have been destroyed that might provide even more accurate comparisons. Second, this method does not take into account the time and distance iconographical and stylistic developments might have taken to travel to more provincial artists. Scholars who keep these two things in mind are more aptly prepared to disentangle many of the complicated issues surrounding Sienese painting in the early to mid-fourteenth century.

Such is the case with the Master of Monte Oliveto, who worked primarily on small objects for personal devotion, such as tabernacles and triptychs (18.117.1) (no large altarpieces are known to have been painted by him). The Master's style is often recognizable by the heavy white highlights he uses to indicate lips, noses, and other facial features. His body of work reveals an artist who probably catered to a largely provincial clientele, which was perhaps less rigorous in its demands for the most up-to-date painterly trends. By attempting to understand his oeuvre this way instead of forcing him into the ranks of Duccio's closest followers, it becomes much easier to understand the chronological arrangement of the Master's paintings. Looked at this way, the Master of Monte Oliveto's work is far closer to that of one of Duccio's earliest and most well-known pupils, Segna di Buonaventura.

Two of the earliest works by the Master of Monte Oliveto are a diptych at the Yale University Art Gallery and a pair of tabernacle wings at the Metropolitan (41.190.31a–c). Several details indicate that these pictures should be placed in the early part of the Master's career. First, along with his eponymous work, these paintings are the only ones in which a simple stylus tool was used to create patterns in the gilding. Punch tools were only popularized in Siena after the second decade of the fourteenth century, during the end of which Simone Martini used them extensively throughout his famous Maestá for the Palazzo Pubblico. After this monumental work, punch tools practically became the rule for the ever-decorative Sienese artists, though they were rarely, if ever, used before. Even more telling in terms of dating are the figural groups in the Crucifixion scene of the Yale diptych, which, though loosely copied from Duccio's Maestá (1308–11), betray an obvious lack of spatial conception. Later on in his career, the Monte Oliveto Master learned to correct this problem, and painted quite convincing figural groups in the wings of another of his tabernacles, also in the Metropolitan's collection (18.117.1).

The early tabernacle wings at the Metropolitan (41.190.31a–c) are a good example of why it can be so difficult to understand the chronology of a painter's oeuvre from iconographical comparisons—it is clear that here the Master of Monte Oliveto has mixed and matched elements from his compositional repertoire. While all four narrative scenes share their compositional format almost identically with the comparable scenes from Duccio's Maestá (finished ca. 1311), the artist has not given up on older prototypes, reverting to the archaic niche-throne type developed by Jacopo Torriti around 1290 for the scene of the Annunciation.

This mixing of old and new prototypes continues later on in the Master's career. One of the artist's more mature tabernacle centers, in the Alana Collection, uses the more antiquated technique of chrysogony (the patterning of gold lines on painted robes). In the scene of Christ Mounting the Cross, a rare subject in Trecento painting, the iconographic model is taken from Guido da Siena's San Domenico altarpiece of 1280. However, the artist has also employed the more modern technique of punch tooling and has included a trefoil arch at the top of the panel, a style that became popular in Siena only after Simone Martini's polyptych for the city's convent of Santa Caterina in 1319. It is clear that, when studying artists like the Master of Monte Oliveto, scholars must be wary of using composition and iconography as a fail-safe method for dating.

Some of the Master's habits described here may cause viewers to think of him as little more than a copycat artist. However, this is far from the truth. The Master of Monte Oliveto's works are lively, tender, and innovative in their details. On close examination, viewers will instantly recognize how evocative and emotional his pictures can be even when they have been copied from earlier prototypes. Overall, the pictures reveal an artist with a refined sensibility who, though not an innovative genius, was certainly a gifted member of the Sienese school.

Because both the Yale diptych and the Metropolitan tabernacle wings have elements that are drawn from Duccio's Maestá, it would be difficult to place the beginning of this artist's career much earlier than 1315 (his activity probably lasted through the mid-1330s). Furthermore, much of the Monte Oliveto Master's style in painting human figures evokes the stiff, rigid poses of Duccio's follower, Segna di Buonaventura (1975.1.1; 41.100.22). Understood, then, not as a direct follower of Duccio but of his pupil Segna, the Monte Oliveto Master's oeuvre may shed light on some of the very complex questions surrounding the Trecento Ducciesque painters.[2]


Master of Monte oliveto, Crucifixion, about
1300-1310, Siena, Pinacoteca Nazionale

Master of Monte Oliveto, Tabernacle Center with the Madonna and Child, Annunciation, Via Crucis, and Christ Mounting the Cross, ca. 1325, Alana Collection, Delaware


Master of Monte Oliveto, Crucifixion, circa 1310, tempera on panel, Cincinnati Art Museum
Master of Monte Oliveto, Crucifixion, circa 1310, tempera on panel, Cincinnati Art Museum


The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore is a large Benedictine monastery in the Italian region of Tuscany, 10 km south of Asciano. It is the mother-house of the Olivetans and the monastery later took the name of Monte Oliveto Maggiore ("the greater") to distinguish it from successive foundations at Florence, San Gimignano, Naples and elsewhere.
The monastery is accessed through a drawbridge which leads to a medieval palace in red brickwork, surmounted by a massive quadrangular tower with barbicans and merlons. This edifice was begun in 1393 as the fortified gate of the complex; it was completed in 1526 and restored in the 19th century. Over the entrance arch is a terracotta depicting Madonna with Child and Two Angels attributed to the Della Robbia family, as well as the St. Benedict Blessing nearby.
After the entrance structure is a long alley with cypresses, sided by the botanical garden of the old pharmacy (destroyed in 1896) a water collector pool from 1533. At the alley's end is the bell tower, in Romanesque-Gothic style, and the apse of the church, which has a Gothic façade. The church entrance is preceded, in the Chiostro Grande, by a frescoes with Jesus Carrying the Cross, Jesus at the Column and St. Benedict Giving the Rule to the Founders of Monte Oliveto, also by Sodoma. The church's atrium is on the site of a previous church (1319), showing on the walls ferscoes with Father Hermits in the Desert and St. Benedict's miracle, both by an unknown Seines artist. In a niche is the "Madonna with Child Enthroned" by fra Giovanni da Verona.
The Chiostro Grande ("Great Cloister") has a rectangular plan and was realized between 1426 and 1443. On the oldest side it has a two-storeys loggia and a pit, dating to 1439. Under the vaults of the cloister are frescoes of the Life of St. Benedict painted by Luca Signorelli and il Sodoma, considered amongst the most important Renaissance artworks in Italy. The frescoes disposition follows St. Gregory's account of Benedicts' life. Signorelli paintings were executed in 1497-98, while Sodoma's ones date to 1505 afterwards.

The name Definitorio refers to the Capitular Hall (1498), on whose end wall is a fresco of Madonna with Child and Saints by Matteo Ripanda (16th century); the hall houses a small museum of Sacred Arts, with works by Segna di Bonaventura (Madonna with Child), the Master of Monte Oliveto (Maestà), Neroccio di Bartolomeo (St. Bernardino), Vincenzo Tamagni (Madonna with Child) and a fresco portraying St. Sebastian by an artist of the Sienese School.

Art in Tuscany | The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore

[2] Kronman, Emma. "The Master of Monte Oliveto (active about 1305–35)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (November 2009)

J.H. Stubblebine, op. cit., vol. 1, pp. 93- 94, vol. it, plates 210, 211 As J.H. Stubblebine observes, '...It is his early paintings... that are the most characteristic and successful. In these he is distinctively somber in color, with dark flashes of orange amidst browns, purples, and blacks; here too, the stiff figures with their guarded glances convey most intensely the poetic mood that is one of the Monte Oliveto Master's most enduring qualities....'
J.H. Stubblebine, Duccio di Buoninsegna and his School, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979, vol. I. pp. 94, 188, vol. 11 figs. 211, 470.


Podere Santa Pia, an ancient country estate, faces the gentle hills of Maremma Region, a place always admired for its views and its surrounding landscape. Santa Pia is the ideal location for those who wish to enjoy total privacy.
Italy's Tuscany region offers the visitor such a feast of culinary delights it really is difficult to know where to start. If you love great wines, great food and great scenery, this wonderful holiday house is the ideal base.
Just some of the towns in the area which are worth a stroll around and more include Arcidosso, Castel del Piano, San Quirico d'Orcia, Montalcino, Pienza and Montepulciano. More to the south are Roccalbegna, Saturnia, Pitigliano, Sovana and Sorano. Most have their own vibrant markets once a week, selling a mixture of local products. For a list of weekly markets in Tuscany, see Weekly market days in Tuscany.

Holiday homes in the Tuscan Maremma | Podere Santa Pia



Bagni San Filippo
Podere Santa Pia
Siena, Piazza del Campo

Bagni San Filippo
San Gimignano  

The towers of San Gimignano
Siena, Duomo


Cortona, Santa Maria de Nuova   Orvieto, Duomo

  Abbazia di Monte Oliveta Maggiore
The Villa offers its guests a breathtaking view over the Maremma hills. On clear days or evening, one can even see Corsica.