Tag Archives: Lorenzetti

The International Gothic – A Break from Tradition

The International Gothic or Late Gothic art period covers the 13th – 14th centuries and came during a time of religious upheaval and political change. The Christian church was witnessing the growth of Protestantism with its new fangled ideas and the establishment of City States. These too had their own, personal, political agendas and particular allegiances. Very much like the world of today.

lorenzetti_street2The growth of the merchant class provided a challenge to the financial muscle of the church and Europe’s royalty.

These nouveau riche still wanted art on a more personal level but art that reflected their view of the world. It wasn’t  burdened by outdated dictate and accurately reflected the people of the times. The church’s ideals on how and what art should depict was being intellectually challenged. People wanted frescoes and paintings that illustrated real life. Therefore there was an increase in naturalistic imagery and the showing of everyday life.

Gothic art

Annunciation of Death of the Virgin_Siena,Museo dell opera del DuomoThe artists during this period spent their time rediscovering the ancient ways of showing nature. Perspective, foliage and realistic depiction were once again on the menu. Here current artists played their part in trying to understand how the Greeks and Romans set about doing this.

Suddenly it was possible to paint trees, water, buildings and furniture. Painters could populate their worlds with people and animals, fields and hills. But how?  It is interesting to see the artists development of perspective. Each creating strange views with multiple vanishing points, rooms with weird angles and impossible furniture scattered throughout the pictures.

Social painting

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽdaThese strange, other worlds, with their experiments at three dimensions provide a unique viewpoint into life during the Late Medieval period. They show the lives of the ordinary people in the fields alongside royalty.

You can see palaces, castles and cathedrals but also simple houses, barns and sheds. As much as you can see wars and battles there are farmers sowing crops and peasants tending sheep.

Artistic licence 

Giotto di Bondone, Simone Martini, the Lorenzetti brothers in Italy and  Conrad von Soest in Germany and the Limbourg brothers from France all played their part in developing the distinctive style of the International Gothic.

This break with the traditions of the Byzantine paved the way for what would become the greatest advances in art with the arrival of the Renaissance. The steps started by the International Gothic would flourish during the next period and set new standards in artistic representation.  However, I still find the exploration of the 13th and 14th centuries some of the most compelling works on view.



The Morra Valley – Storm Clouds Gathering

Lugnano, Morra

The Morra Valley with Lugnano
Watercolour and ink 36cm x 16cm (For Sale)

This time I’ve slightly adapted the series, painting the landscape and not just the hill towns. I was also inspired by Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s painting “The Allegory of Good and Bad Government”, a fresco on the walls of the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena.


The Allegory of Good and Bad Government

It was painted in 1338/39 and is probably one of the first large scale landscapes produced. What struck me about the fresco was the navy blue almost black sky he’d painted and although in the photo it looks more pink, it is in fact a deep blue.

Morra Valley drawing

Lungnano Sketch

(Update) having seen the picture in another light I’ve realised it is pink. Not to worry though as this is the exact colour I see when there are heavy, dark storm clouds gathering. So, all is not lost as this illustrates another of the challenges I face when painting.  Plus it looks quite funky, as do storm clouds.

The landscape also features a very stylised hill shapes and basic building shapes, which I also emulated in the work. I liked the simplicity of the elements and think I’ve managed to create a homage to Lorenzetti’s piece. Most of all I like the strange colour combinations.

If you like this then you can buy prints here…….. 🙂