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  • Writer's pictureJennyLEXANDER

Let us create a Divine Paradise!

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

I would like to highlight the first landscape portrait surviving of modern sense of Art

“The Allegory of Good and Bad Government”, created by Ambrogio Lorensetti. Describing the gradual return of the study of nature during the Middle Ages.

The frescoes representing two distinctive features of cultivated landscape and in the topographical realism in general that has translated to a world of imagination.

The wonderful frescos that you discover in the effects in the frescos of “The Effect of Good Government on the Country” let your eyes wander through the barren corkscrew-shaped hills and multiple rocky terraces, spreading like a fabric the softly undulating surface of cultivated land.

Older pictorial traditions related in the painting, like “The Allegory of Good and Bad Government”, can be highlighted for the interest of details in the fresco, for the nature and the growing interest for the room.

Detail View of open, fertile landscape within “The Effect of Good Government on the Country”

In the details of the fresco you can see figures in the countryside picking ax from the land at the peaceful part that are illustrated. It gives you a feeling of being in the moment and feeling the presence of the nature.

Detail View of the countryside picking ax at "The Effect of Good Government on the Country”

“The Allegory of Good and Bad Government” is a series of three fresco panels painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti (active 1319-48) between February 1338 and May 1339. It covers three walls of the rectangular room of the Sala della Pace in the Palazzo Pubblico, in Siena, Italy or more precisely in The Sala della Pace, also called the Sala dei Nove,

("Salon of Nios").

The rooms measure 14.04 by 7.70 meters and are covered with frescos, the single source of light being a window looking south, in a decorative, painted frame of the sixteenth century. The short opposite wall, the north wall, forms the point of departure for the pictorial programmed. Allegories of Justice and Good Government are represented.

Fresco panel of "Justice and Good Government".

Detail View of "Allegory about good government"

The Hall of the Nine, was the meeting place of the ruling council of Siena, composed of nine members. The frescoes depict "the effects of good and bad governments".

The series is considered Lorenzetti’s as undisputed masterpiece and consists of six different scenes: "Allegory about good government", "Allegory about bad government", "Effects of bad government in the city", "Effects of bad government in the country", "Effects of good governance in the city and "Effects of good government in the country".

The room can be viewed in 3D model of the Siena Government Frescoes, VR experience created by Matthew Brennan (@matthewbrennan)

The news in the landscape painting for that era in Lorenzetti´s fresco represents, unlike most art at the time, the subject civic rather than religious. The landscape has a factual, naturalistic value considerable in advanced of their time, as until around 1500 the predominant landscape interest for painters lay in the symbolic value.

Ambrogio Lorenzetti combined Siena School's painting with Florentine art. The Siena School was more conservative towards the decorative beauty and elegance that characterises the late Gothic. Florentine painting or the Florentine School refers to artists in, from, or influenced by the naturalistic style developed in Florence in the 14th century, largely through the efforts of Giotto di Bondone as the style-maker, and in the 15th century the leading school of Western painting.

This masterpiece, “The Allegory of Good and Bad Government”, of this fourteenth-century can be seen as a starting point in the evolutionary history of western landscape art, an independent landscape art. It represents a new way of exposing a wide landscape, hills and vegetation combined with the city.

Detail of Justice enthroned holding a balance.

If we look first at the short wall that is situated on the smaller wall of the room, faceing the windows. We can view, on the left Justice enthroned. Inspired by Divine wisdom hovering above her. The latter holds a balance, the scale of which are kept in equilibrium by Justice. The two scales, from each of which an angel dispenses punishment or reward, symbolize on the left distributive, and on the right commutative justice.

The cords extending from the scales are joined in the hand of Concordia, enthroned below at the feet of Sapientia. Concordia characterised by a heavy carpenter´s plane. That passes the cord on to a group of twenty-four men, who take it obediently in dignified procession to an impressive, lordly male figure, Ben Comun, in whose right hand the cord ends. Ben Comun whose name may be inferred from the frame inscription below the fresco, is characterized by a black and white robe (the colors of Siena), a scepter and the shield with the picture of the Virgin and the inscription: `Salvet Virgo Senam veterem quam signat amenam.´ He is a personification of the commune of Siena.

To either side at the short wall, Ben Comune `Common Good´, are the virtues: Peace, Fortitude, Prudence, Magnanimity, Temperance and Justice. Peace reclines on a suit of armor, signifying both the triumph of peace over war, as well as the necessity of military reediness even in times of calm. Beneath the scale of Justice, Concord weaves together two threads, which are carried by the citizens to the right, towards Ben Comune.

Justice balances a set of scales and on our left, she rewards and punishes, and on the right, she resolves disagreements.

Detail of the city and country at the west wall fresco.

On the west wall painting you will discover, "Effects of good governance in the city" and "Effects of good government in the country", the city gates lead straight out into the country. In the near and middle distance, lake and low-laying farmland begin to give way to masses of small round-topped hills that stretch their undulations to the horizon.

The west wall fresco in the Sala della Pace represents city and country as having common interests and sharing in the benefits of Good Government in the countryside. This is an image of the idealized earthy city state. Scenes of rural life and labor are to be related to the scenes of busy commerce within the city, both realms are understood to be prospering as a single integrated beneficiary of an efficient and benign political dispensation.

Detail of the city on the west wall fresco, “Effects of good governance in the city”

This ideological sense is exposed graphically in number of ways, in the picture deployment of its component motifs, in its narrative elements and in its organization of perspective and lighting. The easy flow of traffic between town and country is depicted in the foreground movement of people from all ranks of life shows an urban-center linkage with a commercialized countryside, showing a new order of social relations and economic activity.

You can view dancers in costume frolic in the streets, and shops do brisk business.

Nobles on horseback, coming through the city gate on their way to a falconry expedition in the country, pass peasants and merchants with well-laden donkeys, on their way to the markets within the city. A scene displayed where the profits are counted from a recent trade within the city scene. A flourishing trade and life are blossoming.

Detail of the city, dancers in costume frolic in the streets, and shops do brisk business.

The wall of Good Governs of the sala depicts a well-governed city. The well governed city is protected by not only a thoughtful government and just laws, but strong city walls.

A personification of Securitas hovers above the battlements. Elegant architecture with buildings in the city that are in good repair and new construction is taking place. Outside the city gates, peasants and nobility go about their daily tasks and leisure.

The countryside of the well- governed city is a lovely landscape free of bandits and brigands.

On the long wall at the west, to the right of the short north wall, may be seen the effects of Good Government. The frescos are enclosed above and below by ornamental borders. Tituli in the pictures and detailed inscriptions in the lower border explains their content.

Details in the borders between the upper and lower registers depict at the west wall fresco.

In the fresco you can find personifications of the Arts as Medallions in the border between the upper and lower registers depict personifications of the Arts. On the left of a detailed image, is Astrology, and on the right, Philosophy.

The lighting scheme emphasizes the centrality of the city as it ignores the natural light and radiates from the heart of the city center out into the countryside and strikes the left-hand flanks of the rural buildings.

On the opposite wall, A bad government is presided, landscapes and city scenes display the effects of Tyranny, who is horned, fanged and cross-eyed. His counselors are Cruelty, Treachery and Divisions. At his feet, justice lies bound and tormented.

Detail of ”Effects of bad government in the city”

Detail of ”Effects of bad government in the city”

The effects of Bad Government display in the picture, the buildings in the city ruled by bad government are falling apart and unsightly. Lawless in the streets are displayed.

The colors start to fade, and the city creates a negative energy that catch the city and the landscape environment around.

Detail of “Effects of bad government in the country”

The countryside of the city ruled by bad government is ruled by Fear, a haggard witch-like figure carrying a sword. Armies battle and towns burn in the distance.

When studying the representation of the two worlds “The Allegory of Good and Bad Government”, and its visualization described above, then you understand the clear message that we all shall aim to work towards, peace and not war. To make our world and life more beautiful and with the rhythm of a harmonically attitude to support each other for a better environment and living!

As Illustrated in St. Bernardinos preaches from 1425 you get a strong message of the effect of Good and Bad Governments impact:

" Second. The destruction and devastation of the war. When I was outside Siena preaching about war and peace, I thought of the wonderful ingenuity of the frescoes you Painted. When I turn to peace, I see trade, I see dances, I see houses being repaired. I see vineyards and fields being cultivated and sown. I see people going to the bath, on horseback, I see girls getting married, I see flocks of sheep. And I see a man who has been hanged to uphold the sacred justice. And for this reason, everyone lives in peace and understanding. On the other hand, when I turn to the other. I see no trade. I do not see any dances, Murder. No houses are repaired, they are damaged and burnt down. The fields are not cultivated, the vineyards have been cut down. No wounds, baths are not used and no other pleasures.

I see no one going out. O women! Although! The man is dead, the woman is raped, the herds are plundered, people are killing each other. Justice lies on the ground with a broken wave, tied to hands and feet. And everything is done in horror. But the Apocalypse, in the thirteenth chapter, shows the war in the form of a beast coming out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, like a leopard, and with the feet of a bear. What do these ten horns mean, if not that they are opposed to the Ten Commandments. The beast with seven heads, the seven deadly sins, appears as a leopard, for treason, with a bear's feet full of revenge. Yet, by forgiving, one ends and eliminates the war.”

/ Bernardino da Siena (1380–1444). Franciscan monk, famous traveling preacher from 1417, peacemaker.

Text By Jenny Lexander

Artwork credits to: Comune di Siena; Fondazione Musei Senesi

and Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

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