Siena and the Virgin

Art and Politics in a Late Medieval City State

Diana Norman

View Inside Price: $90.00

September 10, 1999
264 pages, 9 3/4 x 11 1/2
115 b/w + 83 color illus.
ISBN: 9780300080063

Celebrating the Virgin Mary as both an object of religious affection and a focus of civic pride, artists of fourteenth-century Siena established for their city a vibrant tradition that continued into the early decades of the next century. Such celebratory portraits of the Virgin were also common in Siena’s extensive subject territories, the contado. This richly illustrated book explores late medieval Sienese art—how it was created, commissioned, and understood by the citizens of Siena. Examining political, economic, and cultural relations between Siena and the contado, Diana Norman offers a new understanding of Marian art and its political function as an expression of civic ideology.

Drawing on extensive unpublished archives, Norman reconstructs the circumstances surrounding the commission of Marian art in the three most prestigious locations of fourteenth-century Siena: the cathedral, the Palazzo Pubblico, and the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala. She analyzes similarly important commissions in the contado towns of Massa Marittima, Montalcino, and Montepulciano. Casting new light on such topics as the original site for the reliquary tomb of Saint Cerbone, patron saint of Massa Marittima, and the identity of the patrons of the Marian frescoes in the rural hermitage of San Leonardo al Lago, the author deepens our insight into the origins and meanings of Sienese art production of the late medieval period.

Diana Norman is senior lecturer in art history at the Open University.

“The book is handsomely produced and reasonably prices. The generous illustrations parallel and complement the strengths of the test in providing high-quality colour images of works in their most recent state of conservation, offering evocative views, architectural interiors, and ground plans that set works clearly in context, as well as many details that facilitate our closer study of the objects.” —Joanna Cannon, Burlington Magazine

"This volume examines 14th-century Marian art from Siena and its surrounding territory, emphasizing the artwork's production and use and incorporating new research into historical records. . . . With its scholarly detail and specialized focus, this book will be of interest mostly to academic and research collections."—Library Journal

“Both visually and intellectually, Siena and the Virgin is a sheer delight. . . . Would that all art historians lavished such care on their texts as Diana Norman has on hers.”—Christopher Colven, Art Newspaper

“Although concerned essentially with the political ramifications of this dedication to the Virgin, this lavishly illustrated and fascinating book throws new light on a devotion to her that is as alive now as it was in the 13th century.”—Jill Purce, Art Quarterly

“A great resource and helpful to others studying or interested in the history of this part of Tuscany and especially Siena.”—Michael Kujacz, Catholic Times

“Norman presents a rich tapestry of Marian devotion in both Siena and its subject territories. . . . Lusciously illustrated, with numerous ground plans and reconstruction drawings. A clear and accessible presentation of a major aspect of the intertwining of art and politics in medieval Italy. General readers; undergraduates through faculty.”—Choice

“This beautiful produced book is a rich and informative synthesis of materials pertaining to the cult of the Virgin in Siena in the late Middle Ages.”—Virginia Quarterly Review

“Diana Norman does us all a great service in fleshing out the enduring Marian instinct that is central to the Catholic experience. . . . Diana Norman’s story is told concisely and with great charm and attention to detail. . . . I find it hard to express my own delight at just how well this volume has been produced and . . . the sheer generosity of illustration here is wonderful to behold. . . . This is a book to be bought and treasured.”—Christopher Colven, Art Newspaper

“Yale has done an absolutely excellent job of presenting the illustration . . . which bring to life the range of works that Dr. Norman discusses in the course of her book.”—Aldo Ierubino, Art Matters

Siena, Florence and Padua
Art, Society and Religion 1280-1400, Volume II: Case Studies

Edited by Diana Norman

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