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Simone Martini


Simone Martini (c. 1284 – 1344) was an Italian painter born in Siena.

He was a major figure in the development of early Italian painting and greatly influenced the development of the International Gothic style. It is thought that Martini was a pupil of Duccio di Buoninsegna, the leading Sienese painter of his time. His brother-in-law was the artist Lippo Memmi. Very little documentation survives regarding Simone's life, and many attributions are debated by art historians. Simone Martini died while in the service of the Papal court at Avignon in 1344.

Simone was doubtlessly apprenticed from an early age, as would have been the normal practice. Among his first documented works is the Maestà of 1315 in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. A copy of the work, executed shortly thereafter by Lippo Memmi in San Gimignano, testifies to the enduring influence Simone's prototypes would have on other artists throughout the fourteenth century. Perpetuating the Sienese tradition, Simone's style contrasted with the sobriety and monumentality of Florentine art, and is noted for its soft, stylized, decorative features, sinuosity of line, and unsurpassed courtly elegance. Simone's art owes much to French manuscript illumination and ivory carving: examples of such art were brought to Siena in the fourteenth century by means of the Via Francigena, a main pilgrimage and trade route from Northern Europe to Rome.

Simone's major works include the Maestà (1315) in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena, St Louis of Toulouse Crowning the King at the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples (1317), the S. Caterina Polyptych in Pisa (1319) and the Annunciation and two Saints at the Uffizi in Florence (1333), as well as frescoes in the Chapel of St. Martin in the lower church of the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi. Francis Petrarch became friend with Simone while in Avignon, and two of his sonnets make reference to a portrait of Laura de Noves he supposedly painted for the poet.

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