The interior of the Siena Cathedral is clad in black and white marble, alternating in stripes as a
 reference to the black and white on the Sienese civic coat of arms. The Gothic ribbed vaults of the
 13th century interior are blue with fields of golden stars, and the ribs themselves are richly decorated
with gilded motifs. Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque frescoes and sculptures created by some
of the finest artists of the period are housed in the Cathedral. This page displays over 50 images
illustrating some of the architecture and artwork of Santa Maria Assunta, the Cathedral of Siena.

Like the Bruges section, most of the images in the Siena section other than detail crops have been
created directly from the images prepared for full-sized output (which are available on Photoshelter).
The title bar text is therefore smaller than other images on this website. Detail crops which were
custom-prepared for use on this website can be identified by the larger text in the title bars.

Click an image to open a larger version.
Use your back button to return to this page.


Images in this section are in three different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Siena Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links to the three Galleries in the Photoshelter Siena Collection:

Siena Scenery
Siena Cathedral Exterior
Siena Cathedral Interior


She-Wolf of Siena 6211
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One of the earliest panels in the inlaid mosaic floor of the Cathedral, the She-Wolf of Siena
(Lupa senese e simboli delle citta alleate, Sienese She-Wolf and Symbols of the Allied Cities)
was created in 1373. Shown above are the Lion (Marzocco) of Florence, the Horse of Arezzo, and
the Goose of Orvieto. The mosaic was rebuilt in 1864, the original parts are stored in the Museum.

Most of the 56 floor mosaics are covered for much of the year, with only a few being displayed.


Nave Siena Cathedral 6209
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The central nave looking east towards the High Altar and the Duccio Oculus. Under the molding above the arches are a series of 172 busts of Popes through the 16th century. In the spandrels forming the corners of the arches are busts of Roman Emperors. The vaulted ceiling and the trompe l’oeil coffers were painted blue with golden stars (late 15th century).


Nave Detail Siena Cathedral 6209c
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Atop the columns under the dome are gilded stucco statues of Patron Saints of Siena sculpted by Ventura di Giuliano and Bastiano di Francesco in 1490. Directly above the gilded statues is a colonnade below the drum of the dome containing 42 painted images of prophets and patriarchs by Guidoccio Cozzarelli and Benvenuto di Giovanni, created in 1481.


Nave Detail Siena Cathedral 6297
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Detail of the painted coffers of the dome, the colonnade around the drum, and the Apse and High Altar in the Nave.


Nave Detail Siena Cathedral 6297c

The  trompe l’oeil (fool the eye) technique used to create the coffers simulates a three-dimensional look on the smooth surface of the dome. The statues of St. Ansanus the Baptizer and St. Sabinus of Spoleto standing atop the pillars were originally polychromed stucco, gilded in 1704. The oculus in the Choir over the High Altar, shown in detail further below, was created by Duccio di Buoninsegna in 1288 and is one of the earliest remaining examples of Italian stained glass.


Right Aisle Siena Cathedral 6266
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Detail of the right aisle from the Nave. Atop the column is the statue of St. Catherine of Siena next to three stained glass windows. Below the aisle vault, over the door leading to the bell tower is the wall tomb of Bishop Tommaso Piccolimini.


Right Aisle Detail Siena Cathedral 6266c
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Detail of the gilded stucco statue of St. Catherine of Siena which stands atop a pillar next to the right aisle. On the right are some of the 172 busts of Popes below the cornice and two of the busts of Roman Emperors in the spandrels.


Wall Tomb Tommaso Piccolomini 6227
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The wall tomb of Tommaso Piccolomini del Testa, Bishop of Pienza,  was made from Carrara marble and porphyry in 1483 to 1484 by Neroccio di Bartolomeo de' Landi. The tabernacle is supported on brackets, above which are coats-of-arms of the Testa and Piccolomini families. The pilasters above the base and inscription are decorated with classical grotesques. Above the entablature are two putti supporting the Piccolomini coat-of-arms with a bishop’s miter.


Wall Tomb Tommaso Piccolomini 6310
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This early example of Renaissance funerary sculpture depicts the figure of the Bishop lying on a cloth-covered bier whose supports are acanthus-topped lions paws. Flying putti on the bier support a plaque carved with DEO MAX. The base below the bier has Neroccio’s signature “Opus Nerocii Pictoris”. The Bishop is dressed in his vestments, with his hands crossed at the waist and his Crozier on his left shoulder. The Piccolomini were a prominent family in Siena, and produced two Popes.


Nave over Pulpit Siena Cathedral 6251
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Detail of the Nave over the Pisano Pulpit near the High Altar. Note the busts of the Popes under the cornice and those of the Roman Emperors in the spandrels of the arches below. The pulpit panel shown is Journey and Adoration of the Magi.


Nave over Pulpit Siena Cathedral 6264
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Another view, looking towards the drum of the Dome. In this image are Papal busts and an Emperor on the left, the gilded stucco statue of St. Crescentius of Rome atop the pillar at the far right, and the pulpit panel Visitation and Nativity.


Nave over Pulpit Siena Cathedral 6251 M
1500 x 1290 (643 KB)

A large detail crop of the nave over the pulpit showing the cornice busts of Popes and two
Roman Emperors in the spandrels of the arches below the cornice, the vault over the Choir,
and defocused in the foreground, Journey and Adoration of the Magi on the Pisano Pulpit.

Detail of the Pisano Pulpit is shown a little further below.


Nave over Pulpit Siena Cathedral 6264 M
1500 x 1290 (602 KB)

Detail of the Nave over the Pulpit, looking towards the Dome. Busts of Popes and
a Roman Emperor are on the left, and St. Crescentius is atop the pillar on the right.


Pisano Pulpit Siena Cathedral 6237
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Nicola Pisano’s masterpiece, the Pulpit for Siena Cathedral, was commissioned five years after he completed the pulpit for Pisa Baptistry (also considered one of his masterworks). This larger pulpit was sculpted from Carrara Marble between 1265 and 1268 with the assistance of his son Giovanni Pisano, his chief assistant Arnolfo di Cambio (soon to become one of the premiere late Medieval architects and sculptors), Lapo di Ricevito and other artists of his workshop. The earliest remaining work in the Cathedral, the pulpit was sculpted in the French Gothic style with seven scenes illustrating the Life of Christ on the parapet.

The densely packed scenes display figures of people and animals, occupying every available space. Each figure shows an individual expression, and some of the panels depict multiple scenes with different depths of relief, sometimes on overlapping planes, with animated figures different than the typical static presentations of the period.

The colonettes between scenes are decorated with statues which act as narrative elements between scenes, for instance, in this image two angels stand to the left of the Massacre of the Innocents, followed by the Mystical Christ and the scene of the Crucifixion, followed by Symbols of the Four Evangelists.

The middle level above the Corinthian Columns is separated by trefoil arches, in the spandrels of which are sculpted Sibyls, Evangelists and Prophets. Atop the columns are allegorical statues of theological and cardinal virtues.

The octagonal base supports eight lateral columns and a central column. Four of the lateral columns stand on sculptures of lions and lionesses and the other four are on bases. The statues surrounding the central column base represent the Seven Liberal Arts and Philosophy.


Pisano Pulpit Detail Siena Cathedral 6235 M
1500 x 1294 (602 KB)

Detail of the section of the Pisano Pulpit depicting the Massacre of the Innocents (left),
the Crucifixion, and the Last Judgement of the Blessed (right). Atop each Corinthian Capital
is a statue of one of the theological and cardinal virtues with angels above left and right, and in
the spandrels are depictions of the Evangelists (identified by their animal symbols) and Prophets.
These sculptures over the capitals are some of the earliest examples of Medieval Classicism.


Pisano Pulpit Base Detail Siena Cathedral 6235c
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Detail of the columns of the Pisano Pulpit, made of granite, porphyry and green marble.
Four of the lateral columns stand on lions and lionesses (with cubs), and the central column
base is surrounded by statues of the Seven Liberal Arts and Philosophy. The staircase and
bridge out of picture to the right (some of which was seen in images 6251 and 6264 above)
was built in 1543 to replace the now lost structures which were created by Nicola Pisano.


Images in this section are in three different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Siena Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links to the three Galleries in the Photoshelter Siena Collection:

Siena Scenery
Siena Cathedral Exterior
Siena Cathedral Interior


Gothic Arches Siena Cathedral 6295
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A view past the Gothic ribbed arches towards the chancel,
with the gilded stucco statue of St. Ansanus visible at right.


Gothic Ribbed Vault Siena Cathedral 6256
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The Gothic Ribbed Vault over the left transept.


Piccolomini Altar Left Aisle Vault 6289
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The left aisle vault, with the Piccolomini Altar at right. The statue seen at top right is the Madonna and Child, originally attributed to Jacopo del Quercia but re-attributed by recent research to Giovanni di Cecco (1371). Lateral niche statues depict (from the top): Saint Francis by Pietro Torrigiani, and statues of Saint Augustine (previously thought to be St. Pius) and Saint Peter, both by the young Michelangelo Buonarroti.


Piccolomini Altar 6217
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The central triumphal arch of the Piccolomini Altar, by Andrea Bregno and several artists of his workshop (1481-1486). The monumental altar was built to house the image of the Madonna of Humility by Paolo di Giovanni Fei seen in the center, but the altar is best known for the four lateral niche statues which were created between 1501-1504 by the young Michelangelo, who had just completed the Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica (click here for the St. Peter’s Basilica Interiors page).


Michelangelo Sculptures Piccolomini Altar
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A composite of detail crops of Michelangelo’s four sculptures for the Piccolomini Altar.
Low light in the left aisle required a 1/25 sec. exposure at f/2, thus the sculptures were
outside of the plane of focus and a little less sharp than I consider up to my standards.

Michelangelo was brought into the project when Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini
(later Pope Pius III) had a falling out with Pietro Torrigiani, who had been brought
in to complete the statues for the niches. The project stalled for 12 years until the
Cardinal saw Michelangelo’s magnificent Pieta for St. Peter’s Basilica. In 1501
he signed Michelangelo to a contract to complete the statues, although he only
created statues for the lower niches with assistance by Baccio de Montelupo.


Piccolomini Altar Central Arch 6215
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The Piccolomini Altar Triumphal central arch. In the spandrels (at top), the Lombard sculptor Andrea di Cristoforo Bregno carved angels on spheres carrying the half-moon symbol of the Piccolomini. The arch is decorated with festoons and garlands, vases, winged heads and other objects in bas-relief.


Piccolomini Altar Detail 6219 M
1020 x 1600 (479 KB)

The Madonna dell’Umilita (Madonna of Humility) by Paolo di Giovanni Fei (c. 1385) in the central altar within the exedra, surrounded by bas-relief sculptures in niches of Saint Andrew and St. John the Baptist (top), and St. Pius and St. Eustace in the lower niches. The small arch above the Madonna holds two Angels, and there are three musical Angels on the fascia above the small arch, between the two upper niches.


Piccolomini Altar Detail 6220
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Detail of the central altar, with the Madonna dell’Umilita (Madonna of Humility)
by Paolo di Giovanni Fei (c. 1385), flanked by bas-reliefs of St Pius (left) and
 St. Eustace, both sculptures by the workshop of Andrea di Cristoforo Bregno.


Madonna of Humility Piccolomini Altar 6225
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Madonna dell’Umilita (Madonna of Humility) by Paolo di Giovanni Fei (c. 1385),
altarpiece in the triumphal arch of the Piccolomini Altar (Andrea Bregno, 1481-86).


High Altar Siena Cathedral 6262
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High Altar seen through a left aisle arch. The Chancel (choir) at the end of each aisle was frescoed by Ventura Salimbeni. Detail of the frescoes will be shown in images further below.


High Altar and Apse Siena Cathedral 6232
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The High Altar and Apse, with the Duccio oculus over the apse and Domenico Beccafumi’s frescoes in the apse. Busts of Popes are in the cornice, and Emperors in the spandrels.


High Altar and Apse Siena Cathedral 6233 M
1240 x 1650 (920 KB)

Detail of the High Altar and Apse, the left aisle Chancel, the Duccio oculus,
and the cornice busts of Popes. The Angel candleholders on the columns were
created by Domenico Beccafumi (1548-50), who also painted the frescoes which
represent the Saints and Paradise on the walls of the Apse. Beccafumi was the
most renowned Sienese artist of his time, one of the last representatives of
the Sienese school of painting. He also directed work on the mosaic floor
of the cathedral from 1517-1544. On the marble Renaissance altar by
Baldassare Peruzzi (1530-41) are three sets of bronze Angels. The
Angels on the lower tier are most likely from the workshop Francesco
di Giorgio Martini if not by his hand. The two Angels on the central tier
are definitely by Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1488-92) and the two on
the upper tier are by Giovanni di Stefano (1488-90). The Angels by
di Giorgio Martini are considered to be among his finest work.
In the center is Vechietta’s superb Eucharistic Ciborium.


High Altar and Apse Siena Cathedral 6241
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The Ciborium atop the High Altar was originally created for the Church of Santissima Annunziata of the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala (across the Piazza del Duomo) by Lorenzo di Pietro (Vecchietta) between 1467-72, but was moved to the Cathedral in 1506 to replace the Maesta altarpiece (by Duccio) to give the work a more dignified position.


High Altar and Apse Siena Cathedral 6301
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The High Altar and Apse, with Beccafumi’s apse frescoes, the Ciborium by Lorenzo di Pietro (Vechietta) and the Angels by Francesco di Giorgio Martini and Giovanni di Stefano atop the Renaissance marble altar by Baldassare Peruzzi. The altar was decorated for All Saints day (the shots were taken on Hallowe’en), so it is a little difficult to see the altar itself.


Oculus Duccio Siena Cathedral 6299
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Oculus Detail Duccio Siena Cathedral 6299
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The Duccio Oculus over the Apse is one of the earliest existing examples of Italian stained glass. Created by Duccio di Buoninsegna in 1288, it depicts the Assumption, Burial and Coronation of the Virgin Mary.


Oculus Last Supper Siena Cathedral 6305 M
1500 x 1200 (767 KB)

The Oculus in the Rose Window of the facade, depicting the Last Supper.
Created by Pastorino di Giovan Michele de' Pastorini (1508-1592) in 1549.
Pastorino de’ Pastorini was one of the most prolific of Renaissance medallists
(creating over 200 medals), a glass painter and die engraver. Maestro di stucchi
(master of stucco) for Grand Duke Francesco de’ Medici in Florence, he held
various positions in the mints of Ferrara, Bologna, Novellara and Florence.
Also renowned as a portraitist in colored wax, he developed some new
materials and techniques to represent hair and skin in this media.


Images in this section are in three different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Siena Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links to the three Galleries in the Photoshelter Siena Collection:

Siena Scenery
Siena Cathedral Exterior
Siena Cathedral Interior


Crucifixion Altar Pius III 6247
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The monument to Pope Pius III (Pietro Balestra, 1703-06) and the Crucifixion Altar in the left transept, both commissioned by the Congregation of St. Peter.


Crucifixion Altar Giuseppe Mazzuoli 6315
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The polychromed wood crucifix is a mid-14th century work by an unknown artist. The stucco relief represents two mourners and Mary Magdalene, by Giuseppe Mazzuoli (early 1700s).


Alexander VII Antonio Raggi 6337
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The monument to Pope Alexander VII by Antonio Raggi (1661-1663).
The statue was designed by the Baroque master Gian Lorenzo Bernini
and was sculpted by Raggi from the full figure model Bernini had created.
Antonio Raggi was the principal collaborator and pupil of Bernini for over
thirty years, and during this period he was working with Bernini on the
Cappella del Voto (seen below), where he sculpted the statue of
Saint Bernardino of Siena (image displayed further below).


Esther and Xerxes Salimbeni 6312 M
1000 x 1580 (483 KB)

In the Chancel (choir) on either side of the Apse are frescoes by Ventura di Archangelo Salimbeni, one of the last of the artists using the style of the Renaissance Sienese School. On the right side of the Chancel is Ester e Assuero (Esther and Ahasuerus, or Xerxes) representing their marriage.


Fall of Manna Salimbeni 6317
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On the left side of the Chancel, just beyond the organ pipes is the fresco of the Caduta della Manna (Fall of Manna) by Ventura Salimbeni. The frescoes in the Chancel were executed in 1610-1611. Below is a detail crop of the fresco of Fall of Manna by Ventura Salimbeni.


Fall of Manna Salimbeni 6317c
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Detail of Caduta della Manna (Fall of Manna, 1610) by
Ventura Salimbeni in the Chancel (choir), left side of the Apse.


Coronation of Pius III Pinturicchio 6228

Above the entrance to the Piccolomini Library is this fresco of
the Papal Coronation of Pius III by Bernardino di Betto (Pinturicchio).
Painted in 1504, it was commissioned by the Pope’s heirs after he had
died in 1503 after only 26 days in office. Pinturicchio painted a series
of frescoes in the Piccolomini Library in two phases, from 1502-03
(interrupted by the death of the client, Pius III), then from 1505-07.
In the period between (1504-05) he painted a fresco series
in Siena Cathedral’s Chapel of Saint John the Baptist.


Coronation of Pius III Pinturicchio 6229 M
1800 x 1000 (658 KB)

Above is a large (1800 x 1000) detail crop of the lower part of the fresco over the entrance to the Piccolomini Library which shows a group of people in Renaissance dress attending the Coronation of Pius III. Pinturicchio’s well-known attention to detail can be seen in the superb rendition of the drapery in the bearded figure at left, between the man who is leaning against his poleaxe (thought to be a portrait of Pinturicchio) and the dog walking through the center of the scene. Pinturicchio painted a number of portraits from life in his rendition of the crowd in this scene.

Pinturicchio (Bernardino di Betto) often included portraits of himself and the young Raphael in frescoes he did during this period (including some seen inside the Piccolomini Library). Raphael helped with the design of some of the frescoes for the Library. Raphael also often painted himself into the crowds portrayed in some of his frescoes.

At right is the portrait of Raphael from the crowd
in the fresco The Papal Coronation of Pius III.


Madonna del Voto 6272
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In the right transept is the Cappella del Voto (Chapel of the Madonna of the Vow), also known as the Chigi Chapel as it was commissioned by Pope Alexander VII (Fabio Chigi) to house the Madonna del Voto (Dietisalvi di Speme, c. 1267). The Chapel was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and built by German architect Johann Paul Schor between 1659-1662.


Madonna del Voto 6284
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The 13th century Madonna del Voto was painted after the Sienese victory over Florence in the Battle of Montaperti in 1260. Prior to the battle the city dedicated itself to the Virgin Mary in front of the Madonna degli occhi grossi (Madonna of the Large Eyes, by the Maestro di Tressa, c. 1230). Greatly outnumbered, the Sienese were nevertheless victorious. The Madonna del Voto was painted after the battle was won.


Madonna del Voto 6271 M
1131 x 1600 (823 KB)

Supported by gilded bronze angels created by Ercole Ferrata
on a background of precious Lapis Lazuli, the Madonna del Voto
is in the Chigi Chapel, flanked by sculptures of St. Catherine of Siena
and St. Bernardino of Siena, both shown below. The citizens of Siena
renewed their dedication of the city in front of this icon five times
when the city was in danger, the last time in WW II when they
were saved from Nazi depredations and Allied bombs.


St. Catherine of Siena Ferrata 6274
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St. Catherine of Siena by Ercole Ferrata (1662) stands
to the left of the Madonna del Voto in the Chigi Chapel.


St. Bernardino Raggi 6276
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St. Bernardino of Siena by Antonio Raggi (1662) stands
to the right of the Madonna del Voto in the Chigi Chapel.

Below are two large (1000 x 1600) detail crops of the statues of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Bernardino.


St. Catherine of Siena Ferrata 6273 M
1000 x 1600 (511 KB)

The statues were designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
and executed during his work on the Capella del Voto.


St. Bernardino Raggi 6283 M
1000 x 1600 (544 KB)

Both Ercole Ferrata and Antonio Raggi assisted Bernini
quite often (Raggi was his primary collaborator and pupil).

Gian Lorenzo Bernini supervised every detail of the building of the Cappella del Voto,
from selection of the marble and columns (the verde antico columns seen in the images
above were from the Basilica of St. John in Lateran in Rome) to the design of the statues.
Two of the statues in the chapel were executed by Bernini himself: that of St. Jerome
and the statue seen below of St. Mary Magdalene, depicted at the end of her life.
She has her foot resting on the bowl which contained the ointment she used to
 anoint the feet of Christ. Her hands are clasped, her face turned upwards.


Mary Magdalene Bernini 6277
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Created when the artist was 63 years old, Bernini’s Mary Magdalene
is in my opinion the most beautiful of the sculptures in Siena Cathedral.
The placement by the door of the Chapel del Voto means that you do
not see the statue until you are about to leave, and this strikingly
beautiful sculpture should stop even the most jaded viewer
in his tracks. Absolutely breathtaking work by Bernini.


Dome Chapel of St. John the Baptist 6332

The gilded stucco dome of the Chapel of St. John the Baptist in the North (left) transept.
Renaissance stucco work was executed by Giovanni di Stefano and Antonio Federighi in 1506.


St. Catherine of Alexandria St. Ansano 6323 6324 M
1500 x 1189 (631 KB)

The marble statues in gilded stucco niches are St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Ansano,
by Neroccio di Bartolomeo de’ Landi and Giovanni di Stefano respectively. As per the museum
of the Opera del Duomo of the Cathedral of Siena, these two statues were sculpted in 1487.

These images are also available separately... I decided to use the composite for this page.


St. John the Baptist Donatello 6327
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St. John the Baptist, by by Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi (Donatello), 1457


St. John the Baptist Donatello 6327 M

At left, a 1000 x 1600 perspective-corrected detail crop of Donatello’s bronze sculpture of St. John the Baptist, Chapel of St. John the Baptist, in the North (left) Cathedral transept.

The sculpture was one of the last masterpieces by Donatello, created in Florence in 1457. The statue was located in the Sacristy for many years before being moved into the Chapel. Donatello (Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi) rendered the figure as an ascetic wearing a camel’s skin, with deeply-set eyes and an emaciated body. The style is an extension of that the artist developed in the early 1450s for the wooden statue of St. John the Baptist he created for Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice and the wooden statue of Mary Magdalene for the Florentine Baptistry, both of which also were depicted with elongated, emaciated limbs and bodies. Donatello’s wooden sculptures were not well received at the time, as the Florentine taste had changed to prefer the highly finished marble sculptural style which had developed while the artist was working outside of Florence from 1443 until 1450. His commissions of importance came from outside of Florence, including this bronze and the Judith and Holofernes later acquired by the Medici for the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

The Chapel was begun in 1482 to house the relic of the right arm of St. John the Baptist donated in 1464 by Pope Pius II, the most illustrious member of the Piccolomini, which he received from the Despot of Morea in return for military aid against the Ottoman Turks. The relic is housed in a silver reliquary in the Chapel, and all artwork in the chapel is related to St. John the Baptist. Pinturicchio did a series of six frescoes in 1504-05 of the Biography of St. John the Baptist, and two paintings of Alberto Aringhieri (who commissioned the frescoes), one as an old man kneeling in the cloak of the Order of the Knights of Jerusalem and the other as a young kneeling knight in armor. There are numerous sculptures in the Chapel, including a marble font by Antonio Federighi with eight reliefs and the marble sculptures in niches shown above.


Images in this section are in three different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Siena Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links to the three Galleries in the Photoshelter Siena Collection:

Siena Scenery
Siena Cathedral Exterior
Siena Cathedral Interior


Click the display composite above to return to the Siena Index page