Siena, Guido da

(active second half of the 13th century)
   Guido da Siena is considered the founder of the Sienese School. He painted in the Maniera Greca mode, as exemplified by his key work, the Enthroned Madonna and Child (c. 1280; Siena, Palazzo Pubblico). This altarpiece, commissioned by the Dominican Order for their Church of San Domenico, Siena, has been the subject of major debate. Its inscription states that Guido painted the work during the "happy days of 1221." Though seemingly authentic and used by the Sienese to assert their artistic priority over Florence, we are hardpressed to justify the early dating of this masterpiece vis-à-vis the crudity of Sienese works in general during the early decades of the 13th century. It has been suggested that the 1221 date does not refer to the time of the altarpiece's execution, but rather to the year of the death of St. Dominic, to whom the Church of San Domenico is dedicated, and other events of importance to the Dominicans that took place in that year, including their establishment in Siena when they where ceded the hospice of Santa Maria Maddalena and the saint's visit to the city prior to his death in August.
   The Enthroned Madonna and Child is the only work known with certainty to have been created by Guido. Several other works have been attributed to him based on stylistic analysis, including a gable-shaped Crucifixion panel at the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven (c. 1260), a gabled Coronation of the Virgin at the Courtauld Institute, London (mid to late 13th century), and two panels in the Louvre Museum, Paris, depicting the Nativity and Presentation (1270s-1280s).

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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