War and Peace: The Description of Ambrogio Lorenzetti's Frescoes in Saint Bernardino's 1425 Siena Sermons

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Abstract

The paper draws attention to a description by Saint Bernardino in 1425 of Ambrogio Lorenzetti's famous fresco cycle in the Sala dei Nove of the Palazzo Pubblico. Bernardino uses the frescoes that Ambrogio Lorenzetti painted in the years 1338–1339 in the context of a staged peace ceremony and as a tool of persuasion in order to achieve civic peace in the city. Bernardino's description illustrates how Lorenzetti's painted scheme was viewed by a leading cleric and his audience in the early fifteenth century. Unlike the few other medieval reports of the frescoes available to us, this description is long and detailed, and adds valuable information on the frescoes' particulars. It is particularly interesting that some eighty years after their completion these Lorenzetti paintings were being interpreted as exemplifications of the conditions of war and peace rather than the complex political allegory favoured by many modern scholars. The description is shaped by the historical setting of Siena in 1425 and plays an intriguing role in the sermon itself as a rhetorical device to persuade the listeners to reconcile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-286
Number of pages15
JournalRenaissance Studies
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes

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