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WRITING ASSIGNMENT ONE: SIENA

Nativity of the Virgin, Pietro Lorenzetti

Paragraph One: (Description)


Paragraph One: (Description)
The Nativity of the Virgin is a single-scene triptych, painted in the first half of the
14th century in Siena, Italy by Pietro Lorenzetti. The painting now resides at Opera
della Metropolitana di Siena.

Lorenzetti paints a voyeurs view of Saint Annes bedroom where the vaulted ceilings
create dimensionality within the room. High ceilings with white curtains, edged with
red and gold trim, adorn the interior space of Saint Annes bedroom, where she is
resting on her bed, covered with a plaid blanket of black and gold. Dressed in a silky
maroon-colored dress, a shimmering golden scarf draped over her head and adorned
with a halo wrapped around her head, she is propped on her right elbow atop a red
pillow with golden accents and grey tassels. The painting shows Saint Anne in
conversation with a female visitor who is sitting atop a trunk beside her bed, holding
a woven flag.

Below the two women conversing, sitting on a patterned tile floor in-front of Saint Anne,
is a female with the new child adorned with a gold leaf halo on the lap of her red,
empire-waisted red dress, testing the temperature of the water in the bowl while another
female dressed in olive green adds more water to it.

On the right-hand panel are two females approaching Saint Anne with nourishment. The
female on the left is dressed in white, carrying a basket of bread covered with a white
cloth. The woman on the right is dressed in a red dress with a white scarf draped over
her left shoulder and a pitcher of water or wine in her right hand.

On the left hand side of the triptych, a young male child whispers to infant Mary's father
as he sits in front of a window that is exposing the pink architecture of Siena. The father

is dressed in a red cape and has white hair, a long white beard and a golden halo.
Beside him rests a dark man dressed in a gold tunic staring out at the viewer.

Paragraph Two: (Emotional or Subjective Response)


The painting of The Nativity of the Virgin by Pietro Lorenzetti exhibits each character's
familiarity with one another. An emotional awareness of contentment is displayed on
the faces of the painted subjects. The use of common textures and patterns in the
textiles, tiles, furnishings and accessories proclaim a comfortable, unpretentious
and harmonious home.

The combined colors, patterns, expressions of the figures, the relationships depicted
among those figures within the painting impress the emotions of love, acceptance and
joy upon the viewer.

The illusion of movement within the painting makes it appear not to be orchestrated.
All of the characters, except one, are paired in quiet conversation, oblivious to the
presence of the viewer. The only character not involved in quiet conversation within the
painting is dressed in orange, sitting beside the infants father on the left panel of the
triptych. This character connects with the gaze of the viewer, allowing the viewer to
participate in the birth of the virgin Mary.

Paragraph Three (Linked to an article within the Art Theory text)


Pietro Lorenzetti, who painted Nativity of the Virgin, and metal artist Richard Serra
appear to have nothing in common. Lorenzetti paintings were commissioned renditions
of Christian themes, while Serra sculptures were massive steel units. Lorenzetti relied
on his skill with wood, paint and brushes while Serra relied on structural and civil
engineers, surveyors, laborers, transporters, riggers and construction workers. 1.

Born 656 years apart, its hard to imagine how Lorenzetti and Serra could possibility have
anything in common. While reading Serras "The Yale Lecture," I realized that Serra had
at least one thing in common with Lorenzetti: they both created site-specific art. But, while
Lorenzetti was commissioned to paint site-specific work, which helped reinforce the views
of Christian beliefs, Serras believes that, The concept of site-specific sculpture has nothing
to do with opinion or belief. 2

While Lorenzetti takes on the role of a skilled master, Serra does not see himself as a
master. He writes, The work does not enter into the fictitious realm of the 'master'. I would
just as soon have the work available to anyone's inspection. The evidence of the process
can become part of the content. 3 So, even though Lorenzetti made site-specific work and
Serra continues to do so today, they do so in very different ways.

Richard Serra: From the Yale Lecture In Art in Theory 1900-2000, Harrison & Wood ed. Blackwell: Oxford
2002, p 1124.
1

Richard Serra: From the Yale Lecture In Art in Theory 1900-2000, Harrison & Wood ed. Blackwell: Oxford
2002, p 1125.
2

Richard Serra: From the Yale Lecture In Art in Theory 1900-2000, Harrison & Wood ed. Blackwell: Oxford
2002, p 1125.
3

Another difference between Lorenzetti and Serra is that Lorenzetti was


commissioned to paint, while Serra believes that the artist loses all control of his/her work
when he/she accepts money from corporate sponsors. He writes, Artists who willingly
accept corporate support likewise submit to corporate control. In effect, they become
puppet creators. Their hands and minds are set in motion by external strings: supply upon
demand, accommodation with consent. 4

Richard Serra: From the Yale Lecture In Art in Theory 1900-2000, Harrison & Wood ed. Blackwell: Oxford
2002, p 1125.
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