Simone Martini (c. 1284 – 1344) was an Italian painter born in Siena. He was
a major figure in the development of early Italian painting and greatly
influenced the development of the International Gothic style. It is thought that
Martini was a pupil of Duccio di Buoninsegna, the leading Sienese painter of his
time. Giorgio Vasari stated Simone was a pupil of Giotto di Bondone the most
famous painter from Florence with whom he went to Rome to paint at old St.
Peter's Basilica, Giotto also executing a mosaic there. Simones brother-in-law
was the artist Lippo Memmi. Very little documentation survives regarding
Simone's life, and many attributions are debated by art historians. Simone
Simone Martini died while in the service of the Papal court at Avignon in 1344.
Simone was doubtlessly apprenticed from an early age, as would have been the
normal practice. Among his first documented works is the Maestà of 1315 in the
Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. A copy of the work, executed shortly thereafter by
Lippo Memmi in San Gimignano, testifies to the enduring influence Simone's
prototypes would have on other artists throughout the fourteenth century.
Perpetuating the Sienese tradition, Simone's style contrasted with the sobriety
and monumentality of Florentine art, and is noted for its soft, stylized,
decorative features, sinuosity of line, and unsurpassed courtly elegance.
Simone's art owes much to French manuscript illumination and ivory carving:
examples of such art were brought to Siena in the fourteenth century by means of
the Via Francigena, a main pilgrimage and trade route from Northern Europe to
Simone's major works include the Maestà (1315) in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena,
St Louis of Toulouse Crowning the King at the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples
(1317), the S. Caterina Polyptych in Pisa (1319) and the Annunciation and two
Saints at the Uffizi in Florence (1333), as well as frescoes in the Chapel of
St. Martin in the lower church of the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi.
Francis Petrarch became a friend of Simone's while in Avignon, and two of
Petrarch's sonnets make reference to a portrait of Laura de Noves Simone
supposedly painted for the poet (G.Vasari).
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