The rich patterns, colors, and decorative motifs of the Sienese School of Gothic art in Italy
Siena adapted some of the humanist elements of realism and naturalism into its Gothic painting, but left by the wayside the philosophical hang-ups and quest for perfect perspective the Florentine Renaissance would soon embark upon.
They ended up with a distinctive, highly decorative form of art, rich in colors, patterns, and gold leaf. It was often as expressive as Giotto’s work, but this was achieved more through the sinuous lines of its figures and compositional interplay.
Painters like Duccio di Boninsegna and Sano di Pietro gave the Sienese school a focus in the late 1200s, starting to adapt Gothic elements but still working in a Byzantine tradition, and Jacopo della Quercia became a towering figure in Sienese Gothic sculpture.
One of the first great painters to come out of Duccio’s workshop was Simone Martini, who developed a much more refined style of the International Gothic flavor and quickly eclipsed the fame Duccio with his elegant lines and richly patterned fabrics.
Two more of Duccio’s students were Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti, both masters of color and composition who infused their art with the naturalness of common life, especially the more talented and idiosyncratic Ambrogio, who painted some of the finest secular art of the middle ages.
The Black Death of 1348 nipped the emergent Sienese school of painting in the bud. The Lorenzetti brothers, for one, perished and the handful of citizens who lived through it were more intent on simple survival than commissioning artworks afterward—leaving Florence’s version of the Renaissance to develop and eventually reign supreme.