Coming upon this small collection is a bit of a treat, as the cloisters of the church of Sant’Agostino house a trove of masterpieces that you wouldn’t expect to find in such a small town. The painting galleries are devoted largely to Sienese artists, whose cold, Byzantine influences are not always immediately appealing. It’s interesting to think, however, that many of these artists were the bold innovators of their times, belonging to the generations who worked in the years after the plague of 1348 killed more than half the population of Europe. The Virgin Mary, the favorite subject of early Renaissance painters, shows up in works of Bartolo di Fredi and Luca Tomme, who often collaborated and in the mid–14th century carried on the traditions of the Sienese school after the plague decimated their city; Fredi’s multi-panel painting of the “Coronation of Mary” and scenes from her life is considered to be his masterpiece. The “Madonna dell’Umiltà” (“Madonna of Humility”), by Sano di Pietro (1406–81), was quite radical in its time, showing Mary kneeling on a cushion rather than seated on her traditional throne, a departure that reflected an attempt among some religious to move away from corrupting worldly influences and portray humble acts of faith. Girolano di Benvenuto (1470–1524) shows the familiar scene of the apostle Thomas, who famously doubted the resurrection of Christ, witnessing the Virgin’s empty, flower-filled tomb as she has ascends to Heaven and throws him her belt; you’ll encounter this story again you visit Prato, just outside Florence. Andrea della Robbia’s terracotta statue of St. Sebastian, who looks rather boyish and calm considering he’s about to be shot full of arrows, brings the collection into the full flowering of the Renaissance in the late 15th century. A corny, life-size model of an Etruscan warrior is the crowd-pleaser among the archaeological bits and pieces left behind by locals who have inhabited the region, as you’ll learn, for more than 200,000 years.
Museo di Montalcino
Via Ricasoli 31
Our Rating Hours Jan–Mar Tues–Sun 10am–1pm and 2–6pm; Apr–Dec, Tues–Sun 10am–6pm Phone 0577-846014 Prices 5€ adults, children 3€
MapVia Ricasoli 31 Montalcino
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