Duccio. Christ appearing at the apostles' table, 1308-11. Tempera on wood, 40 x 52cm. Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena.

Seminars, Schools and Summer Series

Early Italian Art 1250–1400: Siena: the City of the Virgin

  • Tuesday 23 July 2019
  • Sarah Fell Room, Friends House, 173-177 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ
  • Lecturer: Dr John Renner

During the summer of 2019 we are offering a series of linked but separate study days on Early Italian Art from 1250 to 1400. Each day can be booked individually. We also intend to include some small group visits to the V&A and the National Gallery. These will be organised separately and subject to demand.

This series will examine the revolutionary developments in Italian art from around 1250 to the end of the fourteenth century. It will explore how the cities of central Italy, at that time among the richest and most dynamic in all Europe, provided the nurturing environment in which the arts could flourish.

Programme for Day 4

Italian Art 1250–1400: Siena: the City of the Virgin

Siena was second only in size and wealth to Florence in late medieval Tuscany. A military victory over Florence in 1260, though of short-lived political significance, cemented Siena’s sense of being under the special protection of the Virgin Mary, to whom the keys of the city were dedicated on the eve of the battle. Thereafter, images of the Virgin were central to civic, communal and personal religious devotion. Duccio’s huge double-sided altarpiece for Siena Cathedral, known as the Maestà was installed in 1311. Gifted pupils and followers – including Simone Martini and the brothers Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti – built on Duccio’s achievements and introduced radical innovations in the depiction of narrative, light and space. Unlike elsewhere in Italy, many of the most spectacular works of art and architecture were commissioned or paid for by the city’s republican government.


  1. Images of a special relationship: Siena and the Virgin.
  2. Duccio and the Maestà.
  3. Duccio’s successors: Simone Martini and the Lorenzetti brothers.
  4. Art for the Commune: the frescoes of the Palazzo Pubblico.

Future days

  • Florence, Giotto and the roots of the Renaissance – 7th  August 2019
  • Fresco Cycles (Clare Ford Wille) – 6th  Sept 2019


Dr John Renner is a specialist in late-medieval Italian art, with a PhD from The Courtauld. He lectures at The Courtauld, the V&A and elsewhere, while researching and publishing on the art of the mendicant orders. He has given two previous courses for the London Art History Society.

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