Ambrogio Lorenzetti  - Allegory of Good Government

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Allegory of Good Government
also known as "Good Government in the Countryside"
Ambrogio Lorenzetti (Italy, ca.1290-1348)
Frescoes in the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena, Italy

After the fall of the Roman Empire, landscape painting had no relevance in the Western world during the Middle Ages. A turning point occurred in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, when the naturalism of the great Giotto di Bondone (who is said to have started painting as a boy, drawing with chalk figures of sheeps on the rocks) gradually introduce the landscape in painting, as can be seen in his frescoes of "The Flight into Egypt" or "Joachim among the shepherds".

Ambrogio Lorenzetti is one of the most fascinating painters of the Trecento, although his figure has been somewhat obscured by the "great four artists" of his era: Cimabue, Giotto, Duccio and Simone Martini. The latter one was also his master, from whom he inherited his attention to details and mastery of color, learned from the miniaturists of his time, but being more naturalistic than his master.

The frescoes that Ambrogio Lorenzetti painted in the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena are one of the first masterpieces of European painting. These allegories of good and bad government are a quite propagandistic tribute to the Guelphs, and the series is arranged so that the viewer first sees the devastating effects of a bad government on the country and the city, and then the progress and welfare provided by a good government is shown. Interestingly, the frescoes of "the bad government" have been more damaged than those depicting "the good government", which increases the contrast between both series.

Although perspective was not developed until a century later, this painting shows an obvious effort to create a sense of depth, reducing the size and details of the figures (humans, trees or architectural elements) “farthest” from the viewer.

G. Fernández -

Ma Yuan - On a Mountain Path in Spring

Ambrogio Lorenzetti: "Allegory of Bad Government (Bad Government in the Countryside)".

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