During my week-long stay in the glorious Florence, Italy, in 2000, I made two day trips - Siena and Venice. Siena, the arch-rival of Firenze, though could not compete with it for the incredible amount of art treasures, it did have its distinctive flavor and some substantial art collections. My top two favorite artworks in this more medieval than Renaissance city were both in the Palazzo Pubblico, the former seat of Siena city government. They were actually companion pieces - The Allegory of Good and Bad Government, a pair of large frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti (c. 1290 – 9 June 1348), much older than say High Renaissance artist Michelangelo (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564).
These allegorical paintings were full of fantastic imagination and blessedly free from the constraint of Renaissance perspective correctness, which was a giant leap forward for sure, also became a shackle in a lesser hands in the ensuring centuries.
I was most taken in by the delicacy yet vibrant of the colors and the expertly drawn figures, with such linear beauty resembling the more famed late comer Sandro Botticelli (c. 1445 – May 17, 1510).
An interesting point was that this is the only pairing of such contrast between good and evil, that the good is more interesting than the evil, markedly different from Goethe's Faust Part I and II, and the Dante's Paradiso.
Perhaps, the evilness of the bad government was too real and too familiar, while the good government was a true paradise, which was absolutely a fantasy.
Ambrogio Lorenzetti, The Allegory of Good and Bad Government, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, 1340
Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Allegory of Good Government, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, 1338-40
Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Allegory of Good Government (detail), Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, 1338-40
Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Bad Government and the Effects of Bad Government on the City Life (detail), fresco in the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena
Effects of Bad Government on the Countryside (detail), 1338-40, fresco in Palazzo Pubblico, Siena
My Favorite Museum Collection Series
>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 28: My Favorite Paintings at Galleria dell'Accademia, Venezia (Venice Academy)
<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 26: My Favorite Art Works at Santa Maria Novella, Firenze