1 Religious Icon, Stefano di Giovanni, detto il Sassetta’s Madonna of the Snow, with footnotes #13

Stefano di Giovanni, detto il Sassetta (Cortona? 1400 c. – Siena 1450)
Madonna of the Snow Altarpiece, c. 1432

Tempera on panel
240 x 256 cm
The Uffizi

White, soft, icy snow is a rare sight in the Mediterranean city of Rome during winter, let alone during summer. Yet, according to tradition, the founding of one of Rome’s most important Catholic churches took place on an extraordinary snowfall day in August of 352. On August 5 of 352, a wealthy Roman nobleman and Pope Liberius both had dreams in which snow was falling over the Esquiline Hill, one of Rome’s seven hills. The two men resolved to visit the place of the unusual event, bumped into one another and testified to the unusual snowfall. It so happened that the nobleman had been looking for a way to donate some of his possessions to the Catholic Church. He then restored to build a beautiful place of worship on top of the hill where the miraculous snow fell. Pope Liberius then proceeded to trace the perimeter of the soon-to-be-church by moving a stick over the thick white blanket. Since then, Santa Maria Maggiore has become one of the most important worship sites for Catholics and the largest Marian worship site in Rome. More on Madonna of the Snow
Stefano di Giovanni di Consolo, known as il Sassetta (ca.1392–1450 or 1451) was a Tuscan painter of the Renaissance, and a significant figure of the Sienese School. While working within the Sienese tradition, he innovated the style by introducing elements derived from the decorative Gothic style and the realism of contemporary Florentine innovators as Masaccio.

Sassetta was probably trained alongside artists like Benedetto di Bindo and Gregorio di Cecco but he had a style all of his own. He achieved a high level of technical refinement and was aware of artistic innovations of talented painters in Florence such as Gentile da Fabriano and Masolino. His work differs from the late Gothic style of many of his Sienese contemporaries.

The Madonna of the Snow altarpiece for the Siena Cathedral was a prestigious commission for Sassetta, and is considered his second major work. Not only does he excel at infusing his figures with a natural light that convincingly molds their shape, he also has an amazing handle on spatial relationships, creating cohesive and impressive work. From this point on, under Gothic influence, Sassetta’s style increases its decorative nature. The polyptych done by Sassetta in San Domenico at Cortona (around 1437) depicts scenes from the legend of St. Anthony the Abbot. He shows great skill in narration through his painting as well as combining a sophisticated color palette and rhythmic compositions.

He died from pneumonia contracted while decorating the Assumption fresco on the Porta Romana of Siena. The work was finished by his pupil Sano di Pietro. More on Stefano di Giovanni di Consolo

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Author: zaidangallery

I search Art History for Beautiful works that may, or may not, have a secondary or unexpected story to tell. I then write short summaries that grow from my research. Art work is so much more when its secrets are exposed

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