Pietro Lorenzetti (or Pietro Laurati; c. 1280 – 1348) was an Italian painter,
active between approximately 1306 and 1345. His younger brother was the painter
He was born and died in Siena. He was influenced by Giovanni Pisano and Giotto,
and worked alongside Simone Martini at Assisi. He and his brother, Ambrogio
Lorenzetti, helped introduce naturalism into Sienese art. In their artistry and
experiments with three-dimensional and spatial arrangements, they foreshadowed
the art of the Renaissance.
Many of his religious works are in churches in Siena, Arezzo, and Assisi. One of
his last works is the Nativity of the Virgin (1342), now in the Museo dell'Opera
del Duomo. His masterwork is a tempera fresco decoration of the lower church of
Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi, where he painted a series of large panels
depicting Crucifixion, Deposition from the Cross, and Entombment. In these
works, massed figures display emotional interactions, unlike many prior
depictions which appear to be iconic agglomerations, as if independent figures
had been glued on to a surface, with no compelling relationship to one another.
The narrative influence of Giotto's frescoes in the Bardi and Peruzzi Chapels in
Santa Croce (Florence) and the Arena Chapel (Padua) can be seen in these and
other works of the lower church. The Lorenzetti brothers and their contemporary
competitor from Florence, Giotto, but also his followers Bernardo Daddi and Maso
Di Banco, seeded the Italian pictorial revolution that extracted figures from
the gilded ether of Byzantine iconography into pictorial worlds of towns, land,
and air. Sienese iconography, generally more mystical and fantastic than that of
the more naturalistic Florentines, sometimes resembles a modern surrealist
Giorgio Vasari includes a biography of Lorenzetti in his Lives.
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